Ypres (French, generally used in English1; Ieper official name in the local Dutch/Flemish) is a municipality located in Flanders, one of the three regions of Belgium, and in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Ypres and the towns of Boezinge, Dikkebus, Elverdinge, Vlamertinge, Voormezele, Zillebeke and Zuidschote. On January 1st, 2004 Ypres had a total population of 35,021 (17,144 males and 17,877 females). The total area is 130.61 kmē which gives a population density of 268.13 inhabitants per kmē.
The area around Ypres was site of three major battles in World War I. In the First Battle of Ypres (October 31 to November 22, 1914) the British captured the town from the Germans. In the Second Battle of Ypres (April 22 to May 25, 1915) the Germans used poison gas for the first time on the Western Front (they had used it for the first time at the Battle of Bolimow on January 1, 1915) and captured high ground east of the town. In the Third Battle of Ypres (July 21 to November 6, 1916; also known as the Battle of Passchendaele) the British, Canadians and ANZAC forces recaptured the ridge at a terrible cost of lives.
English-speaking soldiers in that war often referred to Ypres by the (perhaps humorous) mispronunciation "Wipers".
Because of the fighting the town was all but obliterated with much shelling from the Germans. After the war the town was rebuilt with the main square, including the noted Cloth Hall and town hall being rebuilt as much like the original as possible. The rest of the town is more modern in appearance.
The Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres is dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the war who have no known grave. The Cloth Hall is today a museum dedicated to Ypres' role in the First World War.
Lernout & Hauspie, a once-famous company, was based in Ypres.
- Official website (http://www.ieper.be) - Information available in Dutch and limited information available in English
- In Flanders Fields Museum (http://www.inflandersfields.be/)
- The Flemish language was restricted by the French-speaking Belgian ruling class at the time of the First World War so that as a result the French name was used by British soldiers fighting there — they however, pronounced it "Wipers", probably as a result of poor education in pronunciation of the French language rather than any deliberate humour.