This is a view from the Hill 62 Canadian War Memorial with the towers of Saint Martin’s Cathedral and the Cloth Hall of leper (Ypres), five kilometres to the west.
Ypres was a key position during World War I because it stood in the path of Germany's planned sweep across the rest of Belgium and into France from the North (the Schlieffen Plan). Moreover, the neutrality of Belgium was guaranteed by Britain: Germany's invasion of Belgium brought the British Empire into the war. The German army surrounded the city on three sides, bombarding it throughout much of the war. To counterattack, British, French and allied forces made costly advances from the Ypres salient into the German lines on the surrounding hills.