Bray Farm at Poelkapelle, Belgium. View towards Varlet Farm.
An able seaman on land
The attack on October 26
October the 26th, 1917. It was a cold, grey and rainy morning. The front line was reduced to a scene from Dante Inferno: a dark landscape covered with a sea of mud and many craters, all filled with water and rotting corpses. Although both sides suffered hard under this cruel circumstances, the Germans had a slight advantage since they were defending their heavily fortified farms and pillboxes.
The Howe battalion, part of the 63rd Royal Naval Division, was in the second wave of the attack. The division gave support to the Canadians who were attacking on their right flank. William's Battalion was ordered to push through the consolidated lines of Anson battalion in order to capture the next objective near Source Trench.
Heavy shelling and machine gun fire however made that impossible and the assault was stopped in the center of the front, between Bray and Varlet Farm. We can only guess what happened with William that day but one thing is for sure, he would never return to his home in Birmingham.
Poelkapelle. Map of the area around Varlet Farm. Source: http://poelcapelle14-18.be/Varlet%20Farm
Bray and Varlet Farm after the war
Today it is hard to imagine that such a peaceful place was once hell on earth. Nothing here reminds us of the region’s tragic history except for the war debris, which is still spread out over the fields. After the war the region recovered from his wounds and many houses and farms were rebuild.
Bray Farm at Poelkapelle can be visited an has an impressive collection of found relics.
Varlet Farm at Poelkapelle, Belgium.
Varlet Farm, Poelkapelle, Belgium. 63rd Division Memorial Plaque.
Tyne Cot Cemetery
William’s body was never found and he has no known grave.
He is commemorated on the memorial wall at Tyne Cot Cemetery, panel 2.
Cross of sacrifice at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium.
Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium.
Join us in remembering William Edward Hipkiss
Many thanks to the family of William for the information they gave to us. It is thanks to their reaction on our blogpost on the first day of the battle of Passchendaele (the Boezinge sector) that we came across his story.
100 years ago today, brave William Edward Hipkiss fought and died far from home. Please join us in remembering him and all the other men who fought and died during the Battle of Passchendaele.
Let us know if you have any relatives who fought during WWI. Reply to our blog or send us your stories or subject suggestions. We’ll be happy to integrate them into our blog whenever possible.
Thank you for sharing our blogpost!
Tom and Sarah
ABOUT OUR BLOG
We take you along our photographic journey through the World War battlefields in Belgium and France. With our black and white photographs and self written poetry, we share our impression of these historic, heroic and tragic events.
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
Unless otherwise indicated, this website and all images within this site are the property of Tom Bruelemans Photography.