THE 3rd BATTLE OF YPRES....
"MUD AND RAIN"
By Siegfried Sassoon
Mud and rain and wretchedness and blood.
Why should jolly soldier-boys complain?
God made these before the roofless Flood -
Mud and rain.
Mangling cramps and bullets through the brain,
Jesus never guessed them when He died.
Jesus had a purpose for His pain,
Ay, like abject beasts we shed our blood,
Often asking if we die in vain.
Gloom conceals us in a soaking sack -
Mud and rain
As we go about our daily lives during this, the summer of 2017 its difficult to even begin to contemplate the horrors which our ancestors were living through 100 years ago.
Many of us are looking forward to the summer days ahead, holidays with the family, warm balmy nights sat on the patio sipping a glass or two of Prosecco........ complaining about our lack of sunshine and yes, the torrential downpours of rain which are a daily event at present, more like April showers than summer I hear you say.
Well, rewind 100 years and for some of the men of Chesterfield who were fighting for King & Country over in Belgium the rain was causing nightmare conditions. The rain was said to have been the heaviest the area had witnessed in the previous 30 years. Torrential rain coupled with the constant bombardment of shells, broken drains and the sheer numbers of men, animals and equipment trudging through the land and you are left with one quagmire of MUD.
This mud would prove a death sentence for thousands of men, figures suggest the Allied troops suffered around 325,000 casualties and the Germans 250,000 casualties in the three months of the 3rd Battle of Ypres.
The battle started with allies launching an infantry attack on 31st July 1917. On that day New Whittington lost three of its young men;
Please click on the soldiers name above to read his own personal story.
John Collins and John Leeson were brother in laws (their siblings Catherine Leeson and Tom Collins married). They were both serving with the 1st Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment.
David Cresswell was also with the Sherwood Forester's but attached to the 17th Battalion.
Private 7029 John Collins
Private David Cresswell
Private John Patrick Leeson "Paddy"
Each mans story will be told in the coming days on this blog.
Lest we forget