AKA the town that murdered a generation. in four years more than a million men would die in the Flanders area around Ypres.
- Both sides had tried to advance after the "open" northern flank had disappeared, the Franco-British towards Lille in October, followed by attacks by the BEF, Belgians and a new French Eighth Army in Belgium. The German 4th and 6th armies took small amounts of ground at great cost to both sides, at the Battle of the Yser (16–31 October) and further south at the Battles of Ypres. Falkenhayn then tried a limited goal of capturing Ypres and Mount Kemmel, from 19 October – 22 November. By 8 November, Falkenhayn had accepted that the coastal advance had failed and that taking Ypres was impossible. Neither side had moved forces to Flanders fast enough to obtain a decisive victory and both were exhausted, short of ammunition and suffering from collapses in morale, some infantry units refusing orders. The autumn battles in Flanders had quickly become static, attrition operations, unlike the battles of manoeuvre in the summer. French, British and Belgian troops in improvised field defences repulsed German attacks for four weeks in mutually costly attacks and counter-attacks. From 21–23 October, German reservists had made mass attacks at Langemarck, with losses of up to 70 percent.
Industrial warfare between mass armies had been indecisive; troops could only move forward over heaps of dead. Field fortifications had neutralised many classes of offensive weapon and the defensive firepower of artillery and machine-guns had dominated the battlefield; the ability of the armies to supply themselves and replace casualties kept battles going for weeks. The German armies engaged 34 divisions in the Flanders battles, the French twelve, the British nine and the Belgians six, along with marines and dismounted cavalry. Falkenhayn reconsidered German strategy, because Vernichtungsstrategie and a dictated peace against France and Russia, were beyond German resources. Falkenhayn intended to detach Russia or France from the Allied coalition, by diplomatic as well as military action. A strategy of attrition (Ermattungsstrategie), would make the cost of the war was too great for the Allies to bear, until one enemy negotiated an end to the war. The remaining belligerents would have to come to terms or face the German army concentrated on the remaining front and capable of obtaining a decisive victory.