Canadian Corps commander Lieutenant-General Arthur Currie inspected the terrain and was shocked at the conditions he saw. He tried to avoid having his men fight there but was overruled by his superiors.
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As at Vimy, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps would see action. However, the ubiquitous mud, flat terrain, and relative lack of preparation time and artillery support would make Passchendaele a far different battlefield than the one the Canadians had encountered at Vimy Ridge. Currie took as much time as he could to carefully prepare and on October 26, the Canadian offensive began.
Advancing through the mud and enemy fire was slow and there were heavy losses but our soldiers clawed their way forward. On an exposed battlefield like that one, success was often only made possible due to acts of great individual heroism to get past spots of particularly stiff enemy resistance. Despite the adversity, the Canadians reached the outskirts of Passchendaele by the end of a second attack on October 30 during a driving rainstorm. On November 6, the Canadians and British launched the assault to capture the ruined village of Passchendaele itself. In heavy fighting, the attack went according to plan.
After weathering fierce enemy counterattacks, the last phase of the battle saw the Canadians attack on November 10 and clear the Germans from the eastern edge of Passchendaele Ridge before the campaign finally ground to a halt. Canadian soldiers had succeeded in the face of almost unbelievable challenges.
First World War –18 | The Australian War Memorial
Wounded soldier being carried to an aid-post during the Battle of Passchendaele. The fighting at Passchendaele took great bravery. Two of these men, McKenzie and Robertson, sadly lost their lives in the battle. The efforts of all these men were truly remarkable, but it has been said that the Battle of Passchendaele could not have been won if it were not for the heroic actions of Major George Pearkes of the 5 th Canadian Mounted Rifles.
Despite a leg wound, he led a few dozen of his men through heavy enemy fire across open ground to capture a strategically located farm. They then fought off numerous counter-attacks for more than a day, preventing the Germans from destroying the main advancing Canadian force from their vulnerable flank side. More than 4, of our soldiers died in the fighting there and almost 12, were wounded. The some , members of the Canadian Corps who took part in the battle were among the over , men and women from our country who served in uniform during the First World War.
Sadly, a total of more than 66, Canadians lost their lives in the conflict. The sacrifices and achievements of those who gave so much will never be forgotten. This status meant that our forces would be at the forefront of the series of advances that eventually won the war for the Allies a year later.
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This esteem helped earn us a separate signature on the Treaty of Versailles that formally ended the First World War. Canadian machine gunners holding the line at Passchendaele. Doctors, nurses, stretcher-bearers, orderlies, ambulance drivers, chaplains, dentists and chiropodists risked their lives, often in appalling conditions, to care for the sick and wounded.
New Zealand Dentistry in the First World War
Veterinarians did the same for horses, donkeys, mules and camels that accompanied the soldiers onto battlefields. A new book, released as Armistice Day is marked today, is dedicated to the skill, compassion and courage of those Kiwi medical personnel. New Zealand sent around , men, about 9 per cent of our population at the time, to fight in the "war to end all wars".
They faced the horrors caused by sophisticated new artillery shattering bodies and minds, blinding and blistering by chemical weapons, deadly disease and gruelling trench warfare. Paradoxically, from the hell of the "Great War" came groundbreaking medical advances such as widespread use of X-rays and more effective blood transfusion methods. It also led to pioneering of plastic and facial reconstructive surgery, with New Zealanders Harold Gillies and Henry Pickerill at the forefront.
With Them Through Hell concentrates on telling the story of the men and women of New Zealand's medical services in their own words where possible, says Rogers. The Christchurch author spent two years researching material for her book, including scouring diaries and letters at libraries and museums, old newspaper articles and soldiers' personal records. Sick and wounded still needed medical treatment, the permanently injured had to rebuild their lives. When Armistice was declared, one nurse wrote in her diary she "did not know whether to laugh, shout or cry". War is about killing and being killed, about being wounded physically and psychologically, Rogers points out.
Doctors used to treating patients in comfortable rooms found themselves in battleground trenches and dugouts. Nurses went from calm wards to crowded tent hospitals full of severely hurt and dying men. Clerks or shop assistants or students or farmers found themselves staggering through deep mud carrying stretchers while trying to dodge snipers' bullets. Rogers wants readers to appreciate the bravery, skill and care of the New Zealand medical personnel in World War I.
He was fatally wounded in Palestine, aged One of those who died, on the 9th, was year-old Private Fred Crum from Auckland, who was hit while grooming horses. A few days later, his mate, Bugler Thomas Hartigan, wrote to Crum's family and paid a tribute to his "constant companion".
His first exclamation was, "Well, Tommy, I've got a backsheesh — one at last. But he wrote home faithfully to his family, enjoyed a joke and could not speak highly enough of the nurses who cared for him. The poor state of many New Zealanders' teeth in meant hundreds of men were turned away from recruiting offices around the country and denied the chance to enlist. Dental surgeries were set up at Army camps in New Zealand. From November to November dentists filled more than , teeth, performed almost , extractions and made 24, artificial dentures. Four dental surgeons went to Gallipoli.
A surgery was set up. It had 40 patients waiting the day it opened. Among them was Yorkshire-born New Zealand signaller Bill Leadley, who had broken his bottom set of dentures on hard biscuits while sailing to Gallipoli. By April 27 he was reduced to pounding the biscuits into a powder.
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By May 8 he was "feeling the effects of poor feeding, and had to drop out for a spell, as I was so weak". On May 20, having heard that a dentist had arrived at Anzac, he found him on the beach and was told that his problem could be remedied as soon as the necessary dental instruments arrived.
As May became June, Leadley was "still persevering with powdered biscuits, but [feeling] awfully weak". Finally, he had an impression taken on June 13 and received his top teeth a few days later. Although they initially seemed a good fit, they soon made his mouth "rather sore, but [it] is better than being without any".
The Gallipoli dentures, which lasted for many years, were so tough that Leadley amused his children by bouncing them on the floor and catching them. She may have stood only cm tall, but she had colossal courage and determination, as shown during the great retreat from Serbia after it was invaded in Within a few days Lewis was nursing in a Belgian field hospital, then spent nine weeks in an Antwerp hospital until it was evacuated when the Germans arrived and she returned to England.
She then departed for Serbia. In the trenches on the Bulgarian frontier, she received a slight shrapnel wound to the shoulder and saved the life of a Serbian officer. During the great retreat, Lewis and another nurse took patients, none of whom survived, through the mountain passes of Albania, on foot, in knee-deep snow, eating a single slice of bread a day and often sleeping in pigsties. Lewis carried one man on her back for two miles and was suffering from a frostbitten knee when the exhausted hospital staff finally reached safety.
After recuperating at Brockenhurst, Lewis "unfortunately broke her arm, causing some amazement amongst the staff by appearing for duty in that condition". Hundreds of Kiwi troops had limbs amputated due to the terrible effects of shellfire and gas gangrene.