Well within sight and range of the enemy’s guns, British soldiers fight to manhandle their 'transport' through the treeless landscape towards Passchendaele. Overhead, New Zealander Keith Caldwell manages to down a German Albatross whilst flying an SE5a with 60 Sqn RFC. This exposed section of road linking Ypres to the Front gained a fierce reputation as 'the most dangerous corner on Earth'.
Overall size: 21¼" x 36¼"
Available in the following editions
Signed by the artist
Giclée Studio Proof
Giclée on canvas signed by the artist - stretched - Image size 21" x 42"
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The Third Battle of Ypres began on 31 July 1917 and was planned as a great Allied offensive that
would drive the enemy back to the North Sea, allowing the capture of German-occupied ports in
Belgium from where U-Boats were taking their toll of both the Royal Navy and merchant
shipping. It was hoped the offensive would be completed before scores of battle-hardened
German troops, soon to be transferred from a neutralised Russian Front, could reach the West.
The offensive was no surprise to the Germans. For two weeks their heavily- fortified strongholds
managed to hold out against an initial bombardment involving more than 3,000 guns that rained
some 4.5 million shells on to their positions. So when the British finally advanced the Germans
were ready for them, and then it rained – the heaviest rain for over 30 years that turned the
surrounding clay soil, so recently churned over by the British guns, into a deep, murderous
morass of stench-filled mud that not only swallowed men, mules and horses but increasingly
hampered the movement of British tanks and vehicles.
Nevertheless the British Army, bolstered by Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and six
French divisions, slowly ground its way forward and on 6 November captured the obliterated
remains of Passchendaele, a village barely five miles from where they’d started. Here, after three
months of brutal fighting, the offensive was finally halted.
Whilst Allied High Command claimed success, the cost was appalling. The battle had resulted in
one of the bloodiest encounters with some 325,000 Allied soldiers killed or wounded, along with
a quarter of a million Germans – and all for the gain of a few miles. The offensive never came
close to reaching the coast and the name ‘Passchendaele’ was soon to join that of the Somme as a
byword for the sorrow and misery of trench warfare.
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