Year
1914

Fighting suspended in Ypres Salient

On November 22, 1914, the first extended battle fought between Allied and German forces in the much-contested Ypres Salient during World War I comes to an end after over one month of fighting.

After the aggressive German advance through Belgium and eastern France was decisively halted by the Allied victory in the Battle of the Marne in late September 1914, the so-called “Race to the Sea” began, as each army attempted to outflank the other on its way northward, hastily constructing trench fortifications as they went. The race ended in mid-October at Ypres, the ancient Flemish city with fortifications guarding the ports of the English Channel.

On October 19, the Germans launched their so-called Flanders Offensive, aimed at breaking the Allied lines and capturing Ypres and other channel ports, thus gaining control of the outlets to the Channel and the North Sea beyond. The Allies held fast in their resistance, seeking the chance to go on the attack themselves whenever possible. On the last day of October, German cavalry units began a more concentrated assault, forcing British cavalry from their position at Messines Ridge, near the southern end of the salient. Further to the north, General Douglas Haig’s 1st British Corps managed to hold its lines with superior rifle fire, leading many Germans to mistakenly believe they were facing British machine guns. Another German attack on November 11 almost toppled the British in the town of Hooge, but a motley crew of British defenders–including cooks, medical orderlies, clerks and engineers–was able to exploit German indecisiveness and eventually drive the enemy back to its own lines.

Chaotic fighting continued without respite throughout the next three weeks at Ypres, with heavy casualties suffered on both sides. On November 22, fighting was suspended with the arrival of harsher winter weather. The protracted First Battle of Ypres–or simply “First Ypres” as British survivors referred to it–had taken the lives of more than 5,000 British and 5,000 German soldiers and the region would see far more bloodshed over the four years to come, as both sides struggled to defend the positions established during that first month of conflict. In the memorable words of one British soldier, Private Donald Fraser, “one was not a soldier unless he had served on the Ypres front.”

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Stealth bomber unveiled

In the presence of members of Congress and the media, the Northrop B-2 “stealth” bomber is shown publicly for the first time at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.The aircraft, which was developed in great secrecy for nearly a decade, was designed with stealth ...read more

Margaret Thatcher resigns

Margaret Thatcher, the first woman prime minister in British history, announces her resignation after 11 years in Britain’s top office.Margaret Hilda Roberts was born in Grantham, England, in 1925. In 1959, after marrying businessman Denis Thatcher and giving birth to twins, she ...read more

Blackbeard killed off North Carolina

Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard, is killed off North Carolina’s Outer Banks during a bloody battle with a British navy force sent from Virginia.Believed to be a native of England, Edward Teach likely began his pirating career in 1713, when he became a crewman aboard a ...read more

John F. Kennedy assassinated

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is assassinated while traveling through Dallas, Texas, in an open-top convertible.First lady Jacqueline Kennedy rarely accompanied her husband on political outings, but she was beside him, along with Texas Governor ...read more

Soviets encircle Germans at Stalingrad

On this day in 1942, a Soviet counteroffensive against the German armies pays off as the Red Army traps about a quarter-million German soldiers south of Kalach, on the Don River, within Stalingrad. As the Soviets’ circle tightened, German General Friedrich Paulus requested ...read more

Westmoreland claims U.S. victory at Dak To

General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, briefs officials at the Pentagon and says that the battle around Dak To was “the beginning of a great defeat for the enemy.”The battle for Dak To began on November 3 when 4,500 U.S. troops from ...read more

JFK assassinated in Dallas

On this day, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas.Kennedy took office on January 20, 1961. From the start of his term, he was faced with a deteriorating situation in Southeast Asia, in which both Laos and South Vietnam were threatened by communist insurgencies. ...read more

First B-52 shot down over North Vietnam

The United States loses its first B-52 of the war. The eight-engine bomber was brought down by a North Vietnamese surface-to-air missile near Vinh on the day when B-52s flew their heaviest raids of the war over North Vietnam. The Communistss claimed 19 B-52s shot down to date. ...read more

Jack London dies of kidney disease

Jack London, one of the best novelists to chronicle the last wild western frontier of Alaska, dies from kidney failure in Glen Ellen, California.Born in San Francisco in 1876, John Griffith London was the child of an unmarried mother who had come from a once wealthy family that ...read more

George Eliot is born

Mary Ann Evans, later known as George Eliot, is born on this day in Warwickshire, England.Eliot attended several schools until her mother’s death in 1841, after which she moved to Coventry with her father. In Coventry, Eliot grew close with her neighbors, the radical intellectual ...read more

Commuter trains collide in New York City

Two Long Island Railroad (LIRR) commuter trains collide on this day in 1950, killing 79 people. Defective equipment caused this horrific rear-end collision, the worst in the history of the LIRR.The accident occurred in the Richmond Hills section of Queens. A 12-car train carrying ...read more

President Kennedy is assassinated

President John F. Kennedy is shot and killed as his motorcade drives through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy’s suspected assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was believed to have used a mail-order rifle in order to shoot the president from the sixth story window of the Texas ...read more

Kennedy assassinated

President John F. Kennedy is assassinated during a visit to Dallas, Texas. His death caused intense mourning in the United States and brought Vice President Lyndon Johnson to the presidency. Kennedy’s untimely death also left future generations with a great many “what if” ...read more

Hood enters Tennessee

On this day in 1864, Confederate General John Bell Hood invades Tennessee in a desperate attempt to draw Union General William T. Sherman out of Georgia.This movement was part of the saga of Hood’s Army of Tennessee in 1864. In the spring, the army, commanded then by Joseph ...read more