The Third Battle of Ypres, culminating in a desperate struggle for the ridge and little village of Passchendaele, was one of the most appalling campaigns in the history of warfare. In this masterly piece of oral history, Lyn Macdonald lets over 600 participants speak for themselves. A million Tommies, Canadians and Anzacs assembled at the Ypres Salient in the summer of 1917, mostly raw young troops keen to do their bit for King and Country. This book tells their tale of mounting disillusion amid mud, terror and desperate privation, yet it is also a story of immense courage, comradeship, songs, high spirits and bawdy humour. Much has been written about the politics and sheer strategic idiocy of Passchendaele (the ridges were abandoned again in the spring of 1918, and, leaving thousands of dead behind them, the Allies retired to a position the Commander of the Second Army had recommended in 1915), far less about the underlying human realities. This book portrays events from the only point of view that really matters.
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