Saturday, July 31, 2010

The hell that was Passchendaele 1917 The Third Battle of Ypres started in Flanders. After a 10-day preliminary bombardment, with 3,000 guns firing 4.25 million shells, the British offensive started at Ypres, France at 3.50 am, and Passchendaele commenced. Passchendaele was one of the major battles of World War I.

In just three months of hell, Passchendaele cost over half a million lives – the Germans lost about 250,000, and the British about the same. The small, new nation of Australia, with a population of fewer than five million, lost 36,500 men. Ninety thousand British or Australian bodies were never even identified, and 42,000 were never recovered. Eventually, on November 12, the Canadians took the village of Passchendaele, or what was left of it, and the battle was finally over.

Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig (nicknamed the 'Butcher of the Somme') did not even visit the Western Front and ignored reports of the appalling conditions there.

When his Chief of Staff, Sir Lancelot Kiggell, visited near the end of the campaign he reportedly broke down and said: "Good God, did we really send men to fight in that?"

Australia had the only volunteer army on the Western Front -- all the others were conscripted forces ...

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

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Anonymous Nora said...

A note: The Irish at Passchendaele were not conscripted either. See

Attempts were made to introduce conscription in early 1918, but they were resisted, and by the end of the war it had not been implemented. Those who fought were enlisted men in the British military.

This period was a time of turmoil in Ireland, with the rebellion of 1916 and its aftermath, finally leading to independence. From then on, prominence was given to those who had died fighting for independence. That is, until relatively recently:

"We all have a need to remember our dead. Unfortunately, to a great extent the Irish who died in the Great War have been forgotten. There are memorials to the Great War dead, both within the island of Ireland and abroad - France, Belgium, Greece and Turkey. Most were built within a short time of the war ending, but one memorial is unique.
In 1998, the Island of Ireland Peace Park was opened to honour those who gave their lives in World War I from the entire island."

10:54 AM  
Blogger Pip Wilson said...

Thanks for the correction, Nora. I have added much of it to my article at - Pip

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Nora said...

My comment wasn't intended as a correction, really ... just a side note. Poppies were hardly seen here -- until recently, when those who had lost relatives in both World Wars (and many others in the general public) thought it was high time to correct the imbalance. I know people who wear poppies now, and defy any raised eyebrows from die-hard republicans. You know how it is.:)

9:05 PM  

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