Jets fly over commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele at Tyne Cot cemetery near Ypres in Belgium, July 31, 2017.

Jets fly over commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele at Tyne Cot cemetery near Ypres in Belgium, July 31, 2017.
Photo Credit: POOL New

Former foes mark Passchendaele on centenary of bloody WWI battle

Share

Representatives of the British and Belgian royal families, Germany’s foreign minister and descendants of some of those who died in one of the First World War’s bloodiest battles gathered Monday in western Belgium to mark the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres, more commonly known simply as Passchendaele.

More than half a million Allied and German troops, including  16,000 Canadians, were killed or wounded in the fields of Passchendaele that had become a sea of heavy mud with the incessant artillery fire having destroyed dikes and drainage ditches which normally kept the ground dry.

Early and heavy rains only made the situation worse as the ground turned into a nightmarish landscape poked with craters of fetid water often filled with the bodies of the fallen.

Gathered at the Tyne Cot Cemetery, where almost 12,000 soldiers are buried, representatives from nations whose soldiers fought, and members of their families, paid homage to those who died.

Britain’s Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Charles, Prince William and Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, and Prime Minister Theresa May attend commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele at Tyne Cot cemetery near Ypres in Belgium, July 31, 2017.
Britain’s Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Charles, Prince William and Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, and Prime Minister Theresa May attend commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele at Tyne Cot cemetery near Ypres in Belgium, July 31, 2017. © POOL New

The Canadian government at today’s Passchendaele Commemorations was represented by Ambassador Olivier Nicoloff.

Veterans Affairs Canada is currently working on commemorative activities related to the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele in November, said Nick Wells, a spokesperson for the department.

“In addition to events here in Canada, there will be a ceremony in Belgium with a Canadian delegation that will include Veterans, youth, representatives of regimental and Indigenous organizations, as well as a contingent of Canadian Armed Forces,” said Wells.

“These ceremonies are being organized to commemorate the Canadian elements of the Battle of Passchendaele.”

Canadians entered the Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917.

Brtish tank, mired and hit in the mud of Passchendaele 1917, the remains of a light rail track in the forefront and what appears to be an artillery piece in the background where a shell has just exploded. In these conditions, Canadians prevailed
Brtish tank, mired and hit in the mud of Passchendaele 1917, the remains of a light rail track in the forefront and what appears to be an artillery piece in the background where a shell has just exploded. In these conditions, Canadians prevailed © Library Archives Canada PA-002195

The Canadians were sent to Belgium to relieve the British, Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) forces and take part in the final push to capture Passchendaele.

The Canadian offensive began on October 26, 1917 and by the end of the second attack, the Canadians  had reached the outskirts of Passchendaele on October 30.

On November 6, the Canadians finally took the shattered village in the face of withering resistance and counter-attacks. By November 10, they had pushed the Germans off the nearby ridge, succeeding in mere weeks, where the British and ANZAC forces had failed during a horrific campaign of several months.

Canadian pioneers lay trench mats (duckboards) over the mud at Passchendaele, November 1917. © WILLIAM RIDER-RIDER, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA002156

Canadians paid a heavy price for their victory with 4,000 dead and almost 12,000 wounded.

Nine Canadians earned the Victoria Cross (the highest award for military valour a Canadian can earn) in the battle: Private Tommy Holmes, Captain Christopher O’Kelly, Sergeant George Mullin, Private James Peter Robertson, Corporal Colin Barron, Private Cecil Kinross, Lieutenant Hugh McKenzie and Lieutenant Robert Shankland. Two of these men, MacKenzie and Robertson, did not survive the battle to receive their medals.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said “the battle of Flanders stands like Verdun for the senseless horror of war.”

“Diplomacy must never again fail as it did in 1914, there must never again be war in the middle of Europe, and never again must the youth of our continent be slaughtered,” Gabriel said in a statement.

With files from The Associated Press and Marc Montgomery of Radio Canada International

Share
Categories: Society
Tags: , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*