Military History Tours Polygon Wood and Passchendaele Centenary Tour 1 October 2017
Today we visited the Tyne Cott Cemetery, discussed the battle of Passchendaele and visited many of the places where the tour group’s ancestors died or were commemorated.
We started in the bus where the PA system was used to describe the action on the 9th and 12th of October 1917 where the Australian 2nd, 3rd and 4th Divisions attacked Passchendaele ridge then withdrew having incurred 1,253 casualties in 2 Div, 3,199 in 3 Div and 1,018 in 4 Div. The ridge finally being taken by Canadian troops; only for the occupying British forces to be quickly overrun during Operation Michael in early 1918.
On Passchendaele ridge alongside Tyne Cot cemetery, we looked at how this battle fitted to the ground. Then on to the cemetery where Marion's father is buried. A beautiful posie of flowers was laid, and we all said the ode. A stop at the visitors' centre.
Following this we paused to peep over the parapet to look at the other side of the hill by visiting the German war cemetery of Langemark. During the First Battle of Ypres (1914) in World War I, inexperienced German infantry suffered severe casualties when they made a futile frontal attack on allied positions near Langemark and were checked by experienced French infantry and British riflemen. Contrary to popular myth, only fifteen percent of the German soldiers involved in the Battle of Langemark were schoolboys and students. Legend has it that the German infantry sang the first stanza of what later (1922) became their national anthem "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles", as they charged. The cemetery is now maintained by Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (German War Graves Commission).
Then on to a number of other cemeteries where ancestors were honoured.
That evening we had cake to wish Sheldon a happy birthday.