Bridge House today at Langemarck-Poelkapelle, right beside Bridge House Cemetery. It was rebuilt after the war.
It is most likely that Corporal John Edwin Greenwood past time here as it was used as an advanced dressing station
by many units after its capture on July the 31st.
Death and mud
During the battle of Passchendaele, the continuous rain and shelling had changed the battlefield into a deadly pool of mud. It was one big swamp of craters, filled with decomposing bodies. Soldiers who survived the horrors of the great war recalled afterwards that the mud could be as deadly as the bullet from a German gun itself. It could suck you in, deeper and deeper.
When wounded on the battlefield, sometimes the only option was to take cover in such a mud filled crater hoping to be rescued in time. If you didn’t had the luck to be pulled out, you literally drowned.
Collecting the wounded
For a soldier it was strictly forbidden to stop during an attack to save a wounded comrade. Helping and collecting the wounded was a task for the stretcher bearers, who worked in the same conditions as the attacking soldiers. They kept on going back into the fields, unarmed and unprotected, searching for the wounded, with the constant risk of being killed.
In normal circumstances, 2 men were assigned to a stretcher. However, on a muddy battlefield 4 men were required to evacuate the wounded, and in the worst circumstances a total of 6 men was needed.
Stretcher bearers in the mud, a daily routine. This famous picture was taken near Boezinge on the 1st of August 1917.
It gives a good view on the daily conditions these men had to work in.
Corporal John Edwin Greenwood
One of these men was Corporal John Edwin Greenwood, killed at age 22 in a Pill Box near Bank Farm, on the 16th of August 1917 - the first day of the battle of Langemarck.
His family has not forgotten John and travelled all the way from Australia to Flanders in order to pay their respect to him today, on the spot where he died 100 years ago. Thanks to Christopher for sending me the picture of his Great uncle.
View from Frezenberg towards Fortuinhoek. Bank farm in the far distance in the middle of the picture. It were in these fields that the 109 FA stretcher bearers searched for wounded soldiers after the attack on the 16th of August.
Bridge House Cemetery at Langemarck-Poelkapelle. The cemetery itself was started by the 59th (North Midland) Division at the end of September 1917. It now contains the graves of 45 soldiers most who felt during the battle of Polygon wood. Right beside Bridge House Cemetery lies Bridge House itself. It was rebuilt after the war. It is most likely that Corporal John Edwin Greenwood past time here as it was used as an advanced dressing station.
Words from the battlefield
Sergeant Robert McKay, who was serving in the same unit as Corporal John Edwin Greenwood, kept a diary. His words give an insight on the daily conditions these men had to work in and and mentions the death of Cpl. Greenwood in his writing.
Many battles to come
The Battle of Langemarck itself which started on the day John died was just a small phase in the 105 days of the battle of Passchendaele. Again, many men found their dead in Flanders mud for just little gained ground. Although the fighting kept on going all along the Ypres salient, the next great battle was to happen in September when the push was made towards Polygon wood.
Please reply and let us know if you have any relatives who fought during the battle of Passchendaele.
Thank you for sharing our blogpost!
Passchendaele (Philip Warner)
Before endeavours fade (Rose E.B.Coombs)
They called it Passchendaele (Lyn Macdonald)
We honor the men who fought and died during both World Wars by telling their story and by sharing our pictures of battlefields, memorials and cemeteries as they are today.
Lest We Forget
George Theodore Snelling
William Edward Hipkiss
Sydney Edmund Ellis
John Edwin Greenwood
MacCulloch and Edwards
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