We must learn the lessons of Passchendaele
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