We must learn the lessons of Pass­chen­daele

Middleton Guardian - - YOUR VIEWS -

THE re­cent an­niver­sary of the third bat­tle of Ypres, or Pass­chen­daele has it is more pop­u­larly known, has filled me with anger and dis­may, not feel­ings of sac­ri­fice and pa­tri­o­tism like many other his­to­ri­ans.

Dan Snow and other prom­i­nent TV his­to­ri­ans have painted a bat­tle that was nec­es­sary in try­ing to se­cure vi­tal Ger­man U-boat bases on the Flan­ders coast and in cap­tur­ing an im­por­tant strate­gic high point in the Ypres salient.

The first ob­jec­tive was never met, with Ger­man re­sis­tance and the weather mak­ing this im­pos­si­ble (a land prone to flood­ing and laden with nu­mer­ous dykes to cap­ture sur­face wa­ter) and the sec­ond met with five miles gained for ap­prox­i­mately 325,000 ca­su­al­ties (with 260,000 Ger­man ca­su­al­ties).

Many re­vi­sion­ist his­to­ri­ans have come to the con­clu­sion, Haig’s pref­er­ence for a full frontal at­tack to se­cure a de­ci­sive blow against the Ger­mans, in light of pos­si­ble Rus­sian with­drawal from the war, due to rev­o­lu­tion meant mass ca­su­al­ties were in­evitable.

Gen­eral Plumber pre­ferred a ‘snatch and grab’ tac­tic which had been rel­a­tively suc­cess­ful in the months pre­ced­ing Pass­chen­daele, where small amounts of land were gained, con­sol­i­dated and then the same tac­tic used again. Sadly Haig dis­missed such a tac­tic has be­ing too in­signif­i­cant.

I ask what was Pass­chen­daele for after so much slaugh­ter?

This leads to a more sub­stan­tive ques­tion about the ques­tion­ing of author­ity, that is have we learnt to ques­tion author­ity in or­der to pre­serve lives since 1917?

One thing to come out of the Gren­fell tragedy is such ques­tion­ing, with the for­mer head of Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea coun­cil sacked for not lis­ten­ing to griev­ing res­i­dents of Gren­fell, then crit­i­cism of Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the judge ap­pointed to head the Gren­fell in­quiry by res­i­dents, say­ing he lacked the sym­pa­thy and trust they des­per­ately needed.

Let Pass­chen­daele not be­come an­other ter­ri­ble bat­tle in a ter­ri­ble war, let it be­come an open­ing up, a ques­tion­ing of those in power which af­fect and con­trol our lives, with such ter­ri­ble con­se­quences. Derek Fraser (his­tory teacher) Mid­dle­ton

I would be in­ter­ested if any­one has old pic­tures of the po­lice in that time. His name was Robert Moar. I can be con­tacted on 0161 653 8677. Audrey Moss Mid­dle­ton.

This pic­ture was sent in by Mick Cheetham. Email your pic­tures to mid­dle­tonguardian@ men­media.co.uk or up­load them to flickr.com/groups/mid­dle­ton­pics

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