Remembered: The Battle of Passchendaele | Heritage Calling

Allied Australian troops walk through the remains of Chateau Wood, Passchendaele 29 October 1917. © IWM E(AUS) 1220.

Today – 31 July – marks one hundred years since the start of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres, 31 July – 10 November 1917), Britain’s major offensive against German forces in the Flanders region of Belgium.

The ultimate aim was to liberate the occupied Channel ports to the north of Ypres, neutralising the U-boat threat to North Sea shipping and take the pressure off…

Source: Remembered: The Battle of Passchendaele | Heritage Calling

Book review – Harry’s War: The Great War Diary of Harry Drinkwater | Book Review | History Extra

Reviewed by: Nigel Jones

Amid the array of books marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, this is a real find: a full-length, contemporaneous diary kept by a soldier who served throughout the entire conflict, initially joining up in 1914 as a volunteer private and later commissioned as an officer.

Harry Drinkwater, a cobbler’s son from Stratford-upon-Avon, joined a Birmingham ‘Pals’ battalion after being rejected by the regular army for being too short. Shipped to the western front after training in November 1915, he was immediately plunged into the realities of war. As he wrote: “Heard a fearful crash and found the next dugout to ours blown to blazes and Sergeant Horton with it. He had been our physical drill instructor since the beginning. He was a fellow I liked. As soon as I heard the crash I made my way out, and, with the help of Sergeant Wassell dug him out; he was very near a ‘gonner’. Wassell and I carried him to the rear. Before we could get him anywhere near a dressing station he had departed this life. He was our first casualty, and our first experience of death.”

Drinkwater was to have plenty more experience during the next three blood-drenched years. Shells dropped all around him, decimating groups he had just left; bullets whistled past his ears; mines erupted in flames beneath his feet. Poison gas wafted on the breeze, his friends dropping one by one. But from the Somme and Passchendaele to the Italian front and the German offensives of spring 1918, Drinkwater remained…

Read more: Book review – Harry’s War: The Great War Diary of Harry Drinkwater | Book Review | History Extra.