The Road to Pass­chen­daele

Cotswold Life - - COTSWOLD BOOKS - by Richard Van Em­den www.pen-and-sword.co.uk £25

A cen­tury has passed since the Third Bat­tle of Ypres, also known as the Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele, a bat­tle which along with the Bat­tle of the Somme, the Bat­tle of Ver­dun and Gal­lipoli, has come to sym­bol­ise the hor­rors of war. In the pre­sent age, to some, the suf­fer­ing and courage of those who en­dured may seem to have lost some sig­nif­i­cance, due to the pass­ing of time and the First World War mov­ing out of liv­ing mem­ory, and to some ex­tent be­ing over­shad­owed by the Sec­ond World War. But what must be re­mem­bered is that the men who fought at Pass­chen­daele were real peo­ple, with hopes, dreams and fears. Richard Van Em­den’s ex­cel­lent book bril­liantly il­lus­trates this for it is the sto­ries of the bat­tle told by those who were there, the or­di­nary sol­diers, the of­fi­cers, the Bri­tish and the Ger­mans. The book il­lus­trates the enor­mous so­cial di­vide be­tween of­fi­cers and men, a di­vide that does not seem quite as wide these days. The book also con­tains a great deal of rare, and in many cases pre­vi­ously un­pub­lished pho­to­graphs, taken with il­le­gally held cam­eras of­ten an­no­tated by the pho­tog­ra­phers own hand. This is cer­tainly not a pleas­ant book to read - it is all too real for that – but it is worth­while and, among the true hor­ror and the death, there are tales of self-sac­ri­fice and hero­ism.

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