Saturday, 11 November 2017

Remembering Passchendaele

Today, on November 11th, we solemnly remember the men and women who have given their lives year after year in service of our country. This year however, it coincides with the 100th anniversary of a brutal blood letting which enveloped France exactly a century ago. This was of course the three month Battle of Passchendaele.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
This bloody contest over a sea of mud for little gain was actually objected to by the commander of the Canadian Corps, Arthur Currie. He predicted that the battle would cost 16,000 Canadian casualties and was eerily accurate as it wound up costing 15,654 causlties to the Canadians.

It was an awful slog. One Canadian would say "The ground beggars description. The strongest and youngest cannot navigate without falling down."[1]. Indeed that is almost an understatement. The battlefield was a sea of mud which drowned men, mules, and horses, saw supplies simply sink into the mire, and sucked at men's legs like glue. Truly the sea of mud defies description or belief, especially belief that someone would think such a mad attack would succeed in anything.

In the end the Canadians prevailed, and the village was captured. The outcome though, has been debated back and forth for a century at this point, and it is doubtful that any consensus will ever truly be reached on the matter.

What cannot be doubted however, is the courage, valor, and unrelenting heroism shown by the Canadian Corps. They played a key role as shock troops for the Entente across the Western Front all the way to the armistice that was signed 99 years ago. Since then Canadians have been active on battlefields from France to Africa, giving their lives in the name of peace.

The valor of Canadians then and now should not be forgotten. The continued service of our men and women in uniform should be praised and acknowledged for what it is, and we should never forget those who have given their lives in service to this country at home or abroad, now and forever.

We remember.


1] Pierre Burton, Marching As To War, Page 185, Doubleday Canada, 2001

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