July 1917

The mud of Passchendaele

At 03:50 a.m. On July 31, 1917, the battle of Passchendaele began with the assault of Pilckem by nine British divisions; German general Hermann von Kuhl defined the battle «[...] the greatest martyrdom of the first World War [where] no division could survive more than a week in that hell.»

The battle, wich ended in November of the same year, opposed the British on one side and the German Empire on the other. The battle was one of the biggest defeats in British military history due to the heavy losses, compared to the modest results.

One of the most terrible obstacles was the land that became an anormous expanse of mud due to the heavy rain and artillery fire, where troops and vehicles struggled to advance. One of the most vivid testimonies comes from the simple soldier Charles Miles (10th Royal Fusiliers battalion): «It was amazing, there was mud everywhere and the air smelled of rancid, stale, rotten and dead. […] I was a messanger […] I often sunk into the mud and risked to being taken into forever, but this was not the worst of my job: sometimes, instead of sense the mud under the boots, I happened to “float” on it, trampling something swollen and much more compact. These were corpses, horribly disfigured by death for drowning, in this swamp of hell. It was a horrifying experience.»