PHOTO RESEARCHERS, INC. / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHOTO RESEARCHERS, INC. / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
It took a stretcher party of seven to carry a wounded soldier from the muddy battlefield, August 1917. The Battle of Pilckem Ridge, July 31 - August 2, 1917, was the opening attack of the main part of the Battle of Passchendaele in WWI. The Allied attack had mixed results. A substantial amount of ground was captured and a large number of casualties inflicted on the German defenders, but the German defenders also recaptured some ground on the XIX Corps front, from the Ypres-Roulers railway, north to St. Julien. Heavy rainfall had a serious effect on operations, causing more problems for the British who were advancing into the area devastated by artillery fire and was mostly flooded and muddy. The Battle of Passchendaele took place on the Western Front, between July and November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders. Passchendaele lay on the last ridge east of Ypres, five miles from a railway junction at Roeselare, which was a vital part of the supply system of the German Fourth Army. The resistance of the German Fourth Army, unusually wet weather, the onset of winter and the diversion of British and French resources to Italy, allowed the Germans to avoid a general withdrawal. The campaign ended in November when the Canadian Corps captured Passchendaele. In his memoirs (1938) Lloyd George, British Prime Minister during WWI, wrote, 'Passchendaele was indeed one of the greatest disasters of the war ... No soldier of any intelligence now defends this senseless campaign ...'.
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