We began our day at the Menin Gate again for a discussion. We discussed two Victoria Cross recipients, Hall and Mackenzie. We also talked about the evolution of artillery, barbed wire, and machine gun tactics. The advent of continuous-wave radio during the late war was also explored.
After, we visited the steadily sloping plains around St. Eloi, where Canada was again victorious. At Railside Dugouts cemetery, we visited the gravesite of Dr. Milner’s great uncle. We returned to the Grote Markt square for a baguette.
Then, we went to Hill 62, Mont Sorrel. Here we saw where the Germans displaced the Canadians from the hill, only to be thrown back after successive, determined Canadian counterattacks. We saw Maple Wood and Sanctuary Wood, where we explored an accurate trench replica that featured realistic underground tunnels. Hill 61 was also in the distance.
Next was Passchendaele. We stood on Bellevue Spur, one of the two prominences along the Ypres-Passchendaele axis. In 1917, the entire Canadian Corps (four divisions and its artillery) passed along these two ridges – which were fiercely guarded by a network of German pillboxes – to get to their objective. The valleys below held a sea of mud and were impassable. This meant that tens of thousands of men crossed an area of operations of less than three kilometres in width.
We then visited the Crest Farm monument, and Tyne Cot cemetery. It is astonishing that one million Allied soldiers were casualties between Ypres and Passchendaele; a ten-minute drive. These numbers were matched on the German side.
– Michael Kryshtalskyj