The Battle of Passchendaele
with Dr Nick Lloyd
Thursday 29 March 2018.
The March talk of the season was provided by the widely acclaimed military historian and author, Dr Nick Lloyd who provided a well structured account of the Battle of Passchendaele, based on his recent Sunday Times top 10 bestselling book “Passechendale – a New History”.
“Did we really send men to fight over such ground?” The quote attributed to Sir Launcelot Kiggell was made all the more poignant as we were faced with the description of how the battle for the ridge progressed, and the difficulties caused by both the incessant rain and the questionable wisdom of the differing methods of attack given by a succession of generals. When ground was gained; it was often lost, and fought for again – resulting in massive loss of life on both sides amid the mud, trenches, and barbed wire of the desolate landscape that was the Western Front.
We were shown that a change, under the leadership of General Sir Herbert Plumer, to tactics of ‘Bite and Hold’ proved extremely effective and meant that the British could at last push forward at Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde and Poelcappelle between 21 September and 10 October of 1917. For the Germans this was the most harrowing phase of fighting resulting in many thousands losing their lives.
Passchendale Ridge was finally taken by the Canadian on 6 December.
Many Victoria Crosses were valiantly earned in the months of fighting.