Ypres 1914-15 : Slaughter of the Innocents
Ypres Slaughter of th Innocents 1914-1915 is the first in a compelling new series to explore the battlefields of the Western Front during the First World War. For the first time, the whole story of the ‘strip of murdered nature’ will be told.
The aim of this series is to tell the story of the many battles that took place along the Front during more than four years of bitter fighting. This series will take the viewer to the places which have become synonymous with the war Ypres, Arras, the Somme and Verdun. It will also visit many of the less well known battlefields, telling their story for the first time on film.
Produced and presented by acclaimed film maker Ed Skelding, he is joined by Nigel Cave, the series editor for the Battleground series, to explain the often complex nature of the fighting with extracts from his books.
This film deals with the first and second battles of Ypres, including the opening encounters at Messines Ridge, Gheluvelt and Langemark. It also tells the story of the 1914 Christmas truce and the nearby locations where the artist Bruce Bairnsfather drew the cartoons that were to establish the character of Old Bill.
The second part of this film then switches to the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915. This became notorious for the first real gas attack of the war and was to change the attitude of the British soldiers towards the Germans. Gone forever was any notion of chivalry. Nigel is interviewed at Vancouver Corner where an impressive memorial to the Canadians, who died defending the line despite suffering many casualties from the gas, now stands. He also takes us to the nearby Totemuhle or ‘Death Windmill’ to explain where the gas attack came from and the resulting lost opportunity for the Germans.
The film concludes by paying a visit to Talbot House in Poperinge. Now a living history museum, curator Annelies Vermeulen explains the story behind this fascinating place, where thousands of British soldiers found respite during the war.