The Road to Passchendaele Part Thirteen – The Passchendaele Memorial

The Passchendaele Memorial can be found in the south western suburbs of Passchendaele, a small town now, as it extends along the various roads that meet in its centre.

This was once the site of Crest Farm, a German strongpoint that was the centre of the most stubborn resistance encountered by the Canadians in front of Passchendaele.

The memorial is one of eight such monuments, five in Belgium and three in France, placed on the battlefields where the Canadians fought,…

…that remember Canada’s war dead, and all those who fought in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Looking north east past two plaques which record the action here in four languages, Passchendaele church on the horizon.  The street leading up to the church is called, appropriately, ‘Canadalaan’.

The sixteen days of fighting between 26th October & 10th November 1917* that constituted the Second Battle of Passchendaele (the first had been an unsuccessful attack on 12th October when the New Zealanders lost 1,000 men in just two hours) cost the Canadian Corps 15,654 casualties, of which some 4,000 were killed.

*although Passchendaele itself was captured on the 6th, one more action, a German attempt to retake the village, was rebuffed on 10th November.

No less than nine Canadian Victoria Crosses were awarded during the battle.

English inscription on the front of the memorial (see below).

Note the reference to ‘a treacherous morass’.  Retrospectively, I feel that maybe I haven’t emphasised the effect of the weather on both sides during Third Ypres enough during these Passchendaele posts.  The first six months of the year had seen poor weather, but from July onwards it became truly terrible, the wettest in Flanders for seventy five years.  You will find many a photograph of soldiers battling through knee-deep mud in the middle of August.  Three years of shelling from both sides had already destroyed the canals and streams that provided drainage to an area where the water table was in places only a foot or so beneath the surface, turning the battlefield into the aforementioned ‘treacherous morass’, and the weather in the latter half of 1917 made matters even worse; the New Zealand attack on 12th October that I mentioned earlier, for example, failed almost entirely because the plan of attack virtually ignored the dreadful ground conditions facing the attacking troops.

After the war the Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission created a competition to design Canada’s overseas war memorials, the winning entry of which can now be seen at Vimy Ridge.  The design for the Brooding Soldier at Vancouver Corner was judged second, and it was decided that the remaining six sites would all feature inscribed stone blocks, such as we see here, within a circular terrace.

French inscription on the reverse,…

… and inscribed wreaths on either side (above & below).

Around the base of the memorial the inscription says, ‘Honour to Canadians who on the fields of Flanders and of France fought in the cause of the Allies with sacrifice and devotion.’

Direction pointers to the battlefields of Third Ypres (above & below),…

…the little terrace surrounded by maple trees, I believe,…

…as we look at the view of Passchendaele that the attacking Canadians would have had as they finally captured Crest Farm – except, of course, that there would have been absolutely nothing ahead of them other than wasteland…


…as the aerial photograph on the right, taken on 12th November, after the end of the battle, shows.  That on the left was taken just forty three days earlier, at the start of October; Crest Farm is one of the buildings close to the left edge of the map (they appear whiteish on the dark ground), on the south western road out of the village, although which building I know not.

Visitor’s book and,…

…away on the horizon to the north,…

…Passchendaele New British Cemetery…

…which is our next, and final, destination on this tour.

As we leave,…

…a last look up the slope to Passchendaele church, the final few yards of a battle that had lasted for three long months and cost so, so many lives on both sides (we shall look at the casualty figures next post)…

…before we head off for Passchendaele New British Cemetery.

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6 Responses to The Road to Passchendaele Part Thirteen – The Passchendaele Memorial

  1. Filip says:

    I’ve seen this monument so many times, passing it on my bike, that it is familiar to me. It was just there. And yet, as you tell your story, you’ve made me curious about it. I’ll have to stop and walk around, next time.

    • Morag L Sutherland says:

      I am embarrassed to say we have driven past a few times – seen the sign but not visited…………but I HAVE been in the cemetery which is why I look forward to the next post ……..

      • Magicfingers says:

        Hello Morag. Perhaps you will stop next time! And not too long to wait for the final Paschendaele post, I promise.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Hello Filip! Good to hear from you. It is worth checking out a bit more, perhaps, about Crest Farm and the fighting there, before you next cycle past. Btw, did I see your good self in a WFA bulletin last year?? And I don’t know if I’ve ever told you, but you were the very first person to sign up to follow this site, so I’m glad you are still tuning in! My oldest follower!!!!! But not in age. Lol!

  2. Filip says:

    Glad to hear I was the very first one… I’m always happy to find a new post. Last Sunday, I visited Lone Tree Cemetery and the story I told there, was largely based on your post on the cemetery. The audience was impressed.
    Don’t understand about that WFA bulletin, though… you’ll have to ‘enlighten’ me.

    • Magicfingers says:

      I had to check a few issues, but there’s a picture of a Phil Jacques at Nine Elms Cemetery in the November 1916 WFA Bulletin, but I have now realised my error. Close, though!!

      And telling me that you used my Lone Tree post (as you know, one of my favourite cemeteries, and the banner photo on this site) for much of your story AND that your audience was impressed (I am sure by the narrator as much as the narration) – wow, thank you, you have made my day, week, probably month. And I assure you, and I think you know, I really do research this stuff as much as I can.

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