Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele, Oct 26 - Nov 10

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - COMMUNITY CALENDAR -

In April 1917 the Cana­dian Corps of 100,000 men took Vimy Ridge at a cost of 3,598 killed and an­other 7,000 wounded. Twenty-four Nor­folk men were killed in the bat­tle and an­other 300 were wounded. In Au­gust, they had moved north to at­tack Hill 70 which they suc­cess­fully car­ried out em­ploy­ing their tac­tic of fol­low­ing a creep­ing bar­rage for­ward to the en­emy. The Corps suf­fered an­other 10,000 ca­su­al­ties. Among them were twenty-nine Nor­folk men who had been killed in the rag­ing bat­tle. The bru­tal­ity of the fight­ing de­fied imag­i­na­tion. At the Bat­tle of Vimy Ridge, Pte. Wal­ter Low of Port Dover was the only Nor­folk man whose body was never re­cov­ered. On Hill 70, the bod­ies of twenty Nor­folk men were never found or iden­ti­fied.

Dur­ing Septem­ber, the Cana­di­ans main­tained their front on Hill 70 and at­tempted to gain a foothold in the city of Lens. Louis West of Houghton and Wal­ter French of Rock­ford Road were killed dur­ing this pe­riod. With the vic­to­ries at Vimy Ridge and Hill 70, the Cana­di­ans were gain­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as dogged fight­ers and the Ger­mans were be­gin­ning to treat the ap­pear­ance of the Cana­dian Corps on any part of the bat­tle­field as a pre­cur­sor to a ma­jor of­fen­sive. In early Oc­to­ber, the boys of the Maple Leaf be­gan as­sem­bling along a front that cen­tred on the small vil­lage of Pass­chen­daele.

Fol­low­ing the bat­tle for Pass­chen­daele, many of Nor­folk's war­riors who had talked us elo­quently through the bat­tles of Vimy and Hill 70 in their let­ters home, were ei­ther dead, ly­ing wounded in a hospi­tal bed or had stopped try­ing to tell the folks back home about the war. The num­ber of let­ters home dur­ing that last part of 1917 had been re­duced to a trickle. It be­came more of a job - a mat­ter of putting one foot ahead of the other and not car­ing what to­mor­row brought. Every­one agreed on one thing. The bat­tle field at Pass­chen­daele was the worst they had ever en­coun­tered. The Bri­tish, Aus­tralians and New Zealan­ders have been fight­ing over this worth­less patch of land for over seven months and now con­stant rain had turned it into a quag­mire. The con­di­tions of the bat­tle­field were ap­palling. Tim Cook wrote: "The hor­rific per­va­sive­ness of quick­sand like mud and un­buried corpses brought to mind Dante's im­ages of hell."

Em­ploy­ing the same tac­tics that won the day at Vimy and Hill 70, the Cana­di­ans be­gan a series of at­tacks on Oc­to­ber 26. The main at­tack was led by the 3rd and 4th Di­vi­sions with their pre­dom­i­nance of Western

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