The liberation of the Ypres, Belgium

13 minutes

Wreckage, anguish and resilience – the final days of the First World War

The small city of Ypres, located in the west of Belgium, played a pivotal role in the First World War, and has since become widely associated with the destruction and immense suffering caused by the conflict. With much of the the rest of the country overrun by German soldiers, Ypres was held by British, French and Belgian forces throughout the war, blocking German access to vital French and Belgian ports. German onslaughts on the city rarely ceased, however, with a series of five brutal battles between 1914 and 1918 that were named after the city. Featuring restored footage from the US National Archives and added sound, this video shows scenes from Ypres and the surrounding areas in November 1918, just as the war was ending. The imagery – historic buildings and entire blocks reduced to rubble, weathered faces of people returning home, soldiers clumped together in a yard – is a haunting reminder of the horrors of the war. But in the occasional smiles of children and victorious soldiers, a small glimmer of hope and resilience seems to emerge through the devastation.

Editor: guy jones

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