by Norman Leach
Fully-illustrated, easily-accessible account of the WWI battle that details Canada's coming of age in The Great War.
During WWI, the battle for the tiny Belgium town Passchendaele was one of the most significant tests of Canadian courage and expertise. British Commander-in-Chief General Douglas Haig had devised one of the most controversial stratagems of the entire war: Allied forces would attack headlong into the heavily fortified German entrenchments, capture the town of Passchendaele and its highlands, and drive toward the coast to destroy German submarine bases.
General Arthur Currie's Canadian Corps was called to the front for this attack. After their victories at Vimy Ridge and Hill 70, the Canadians had earned the nickname "storm troopers" for, like a storm, they could not be stopped. Even for the battle-hardened Canadians, Passchendaele was a living hell. Many drowned in the mud before ever seeing the enemy. Others died from deadly chlorine gas, and others from artillery shells that rained down in numbers over 175 per square metre.
The Canadians seized Passchendaele, succeeding where all others had failed, and displaying high standards of leadership, staff work and training.The Corps had suffered 16,000 casualties; nine Victoria Crosses were awarded to acknowledge the extraordinary heroism. Though the actual value of the campaign is debated to this day, one thing is certain: Canadians had been tested against the worst horrors of the Great War, and they had proven their valour.
Coteau Books has made Passchendaele available in alternate formats in cooperation with NNELS.