Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
206thCEF

The Battle of 3rd Ypres (Passchendaele) by the Australians.

Recommended Posts

206thCEF

The edited text of a paper given in France in November 1993. The original paper was illustrated by contemporary slide photographs and maps; this text is best read in conjunction with a map of the area,by Geoffrey Miller ©

http://net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi/comment/ypres3.html

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chris Henschke

I don't know who the author is but a quick glance at the document shows that there are many errors in fact. Another internet example to be wary of.

Chris Henschke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
206thCEF

G'day Chris, here's the author.

Dr. Miller, MB.BS. (Lond), MRCP. (Lond), FACRM., FFRM,RACP., is a semi-retired consultant physician in internal and cardiological medicine who qualified in medicine at St. George's Hospital, London, in 1954. He moved to Australia in 1961 and has practised in public hospitals and in private practice as a consultant physician in Brisbane and in Sydney, where he now lives. He has maintained a particular interest in the medical problems of War Veterans since 1984.

Dr Miller has had a longtime interest in Military History, having commenced the study of Naval history whilst a medical student. Since then he has broadened his interests to the other aspects of the Military and Medical Military history of the First World War.

Dr Miller can be contacted for information or correspondence at his email address -(gmiller6@bigpond.net.au)

A thing to remember,no internet in 1993 and perhaps a lack of proper sources in 1993 so a lack of accuracy in the text.

Not sure if the address is still good, give it a try.

Cheers

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chris Henschke

‘The Battle of Broodseinde took place at dawn on October 3rd. The waiting Australian troops were mortared in their trenches…the Australians who followed and eventually captured the Ridge on October the 4th…’

No. The attack commenced on the morning of 4 October and most objectives were taken by about 0900h. 'Mortared in their trenches' does not indicate the weight of casualties sustained by, for example 1 and 2 Bde on the Start Line, forward and to the rear of the front line trench, in the open with no cover - by Artillery, not exclusively mortars.

‘He ordered the Anzacs to take Passchendaele on October the 9th….’

What about the two British Divisions in II Anzac?

A thing to remember,no internet in 1993 and perhaps a lack of proper sources in 1993 so a lack of accuracy in the text.

This was written at least 50 years after the Official Histories were released. I'm sure it was written with the best of intentions, however.

Chris Henschke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
206thCEF

Well Chris, you know more about this subject than me but, I still appreciate your comments.

Cheers

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark Hone

I'm afraid that I agree with Chris. Dr. Miller's account of the battle is so inaccurate as to be almost worthless. In addition to the errors spotted by Chris, Miller completely confuses the events of 9th and 12th October. For example he has Captain Jeffries winning his posthumous VC on 9th October, rather than the 12th. He also does not realise that the handful of troops who reached the ruins of Passchendaele village on 9th October were not Australians at all but men of the Lancashire Fusiliers from the British 66th Division.

There were plenty of good books and other sources available to the author of this piece even before the wonders of the internet. That's no excuse for shoddy research.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
stevem49

I always thought that the Salient was formed after the Battles of 1st Ypres in November 1914 and not 1915. :rolleyes:

I admit that the Salient shrank somewhat in 1915.

The 9th Bn Sherwood Foresters took part in the Battle of Broodseinde on 4th October 1917 with Fred Greaves winning a VC.

sm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
truthergw

The Doctor's text illustrates how difficult it was for an amateur historian to do good research prior to the internet. He at least is to be congratulated on giving it a try. It also illustrates a danger on the internet where any document once in the public domain, gains a spurious sort of authority. The net gave us marvellous communication but it also places a great responsibility on its users. We need to maintain a critical approach to any text published on the web. I could fill a few hard drives with stuff about UFOs, 'photographs' and all. It doesn't make it true.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
stevem49

Agreed Tom. I have always used a variety of written sources and always check any internet source with several other written sources. It reminds me of the time I did my family history - the old way by visiting record offices. Then the internet got going and a distant relly from the USA contacted me and said that the whole family history had been done via the internet and lodged with the Mormans. I found that the lady had picked the wrong family member in 1856 and was therefore totally incorrect. She told me that it was lodged and could not be changed, despite being wrong!

sm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
matthew lucas

have to say bit alarmed with the statement no internet in 1993 and lack of sources in 1993 as excuses for poor work, Folks like Bean, Edmonds ect had no internet, nor did the writers of battalion histories. We rely too much on the internet (great tool though it can be) and all on it can be taken as gospel, there is nothing better than going back to the original sources. this is what a real historian would do

matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chris Henschke

'The Doctor's text illustrates how difficult it was for an amateur historian to do good research prior to the internet.'

Tom, the veracity of this work has nothing to do with it being produced 'pre-internet.'

Chris Henschke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fedelmar

Chris ... my Uncle was with the 44th Bn AIF and DOW 4th October. Can you brief me on what the 44th were doing and how he would have been wounded please?

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
armidale

Chris

‘He ordered the Anzacs to take Passchendaele on October the 9th….’

What about the two British Divisions in II Anzac?

Respectfully, is not the quoted statement valid?

I have long believed that Australians reached and occupied the ruins of a church in Paschaendale. The reference may have misread "II Anzac" as "Australian" and so would appreciate more detils from Mark, please.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark Hone

On 9th October 1917 the advance from the area of Tyne Cot towards the village of Passchendaele was made by 197 (Lancashire Fusilier) Brigade of the British 66th (East Lancashire) Division attached to II Anzac Corps. The Brigade endured a nightmare approach march in the dark and by Zero Hour (5-20 am) only parts of the attacking battalions had reached the start line. Nevertheless, despite atrocious conditions underfoot and an almost total lack of the promised artillery support the Brigade duly advanced. 3/5th (Bury) Battalion were able to make good progress along the line of the Ypres-Roulers railway and took the first objective, the Red Line. In 2005 the body of an unidentified Fusilier, probably from 3/5th, was discovered buried in a shell scrape along the line of the railway and subsequently reburied in Tyne Cot Cemetery. 2/8th (Salford) battalion LF and elements of 3/5th then advanced to the Blue Line objective, which they reached and began to consolidate by 9-30 am.Two patrols went into Passchendaele itself. One of these was commanded by Bury Grammar School old boy Captain Frank Bentley, who was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the battle. Bodies of Fusiliers were allegedly discovered in the ruins of the village by the Canadians who captured Passchendaele a month later. At 1-30 pm, after beating off two German counterattacks the Fusiliers were forced to withdraw to the Red Line due to lack of flank support. I have walked the route of this attack on several occasions, twice as part of my annual Bury Grammar School battlefields tour. There is a marvellous memorial stained glass window to the 66th Division in Passchendaele Church donated by the Lancashire towns from which the men of the Division mostly came.

On 12th October 3rd Australian Division attacked over the same ground. 9th Brigade also reached the Blue Line (where they recovered some wounded LFs sheltering in shell holes) and sent patrols into Passchendaele but were not strong enough to secure the village and withdrew. Therefore both British and Aussies reached Passchendaele before the eventual capture of the village by the Canadians on 6th November (or 12th November if you believe the good Doctor). As I state in an earlier post Dr. Miller has got the 9th and 12th October attacks hopelessly confused in his account.

Sources:

'The Lancashire Fusiliers 1914-1918' by J.C. Latter (1949)

'Passchendaele: The Day By Day Account' by Chris McCarthy (1995)

'Shot At Dawn' by Sykes and Puttkowski (1989)-contains part of the harrowing account by 3/5th LF's Medical Officer Captain Sandiford.

'Great Battles of World War One' by Anthony Livesey (1989)-contains a vivid panoramic painting of the 9th October attack on pp 122-123.

Please note that all of my sources are resolutely 'BG' ('Before Google')!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Piorun

So, at the Corps level, the statement, "He ordered the Anzacs to take Passchendaele on October the 9th….", is factually correct then. Yes? Antony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark Hone

Well, not exactly. The Corps objective wasn't actually to take Passchendaele. That was going to be the next 'bite and hold' attack after the approaches had been secured on 9th October. The poor old Doctor didn't even get that bit right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Piorun
Well, not exactly. The Corps objective wasn't actually to take Passchendaele. That was going to be the next 'bite and hold' attack after the approaches had been secured on 9th October. The poor old Doctor didn't even get that bit right.

Forgive me, Mark. I realise that his order may not have been direct. I meant that the quoted statement was factually correct in the context that the Corps was colloquially called "Anzacs" rather than "Anzacs and a Couple of Brits" :) Yours, Antony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark Hone

Well, yes, but it's quite clear that Dr. Miller thinks that 'Anzacs' simply refers to Antipodeans from the rest of that section. However, as he goes on to muddle up the events of the 9th and 12th October attacks completely, not to mention the plethora of other factual errors which litter the article, rational discussion of the contents of this farrago is pretty futile.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Piorun

Well, Mark: I've found over the past sixty-odd years that I could hold a rational discussion on most subjects - even the irrational. Certainly, a discussion on the inaccurate is not difficult at all to discuss rationally. However, while rejecting the implication that I can't discuss this subject, faults and all, rationally, I shall, nevertheless, leave you to discus it yourself with whomever you wish. Regards, Antony :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark Hone

Piorum-I wasn't having a go at you. It's just that the article by Dr. Miller, which started this thread, is so full of basic factual errors that it's hardly worth comsidering as a meaningful account of the battle. I'm sure that the Doctor wrote and delivered this lecture in all good faith but he doesn't seem to have checked even the most obvious details (like the year the Ypres Salient was formed) which he could have done in any number of readily available books. However as you say, even the most hopelessly inaccurate account can stimulate meaningful discussion. In this regard I hope, for example, that my Post 14 has clarified some issues regarding the 9th October attack.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Piorun

Ok, Mark. No problem. I see where you're coming from. It can be frustrating when the foundations won't hold the argument. No offence :) Antony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
truthergw
'The Doctor's text illustrates how difficult it was for an amateur historian to do good research prior to the internet.'

Tom, the veracity of this work has nothing to do with it being produced 'pre-internet.'

Chris Henschke

Chris, I beg to differ. The Doctor may have contacted as many survivors and their family members as he could, to get a survivors' idea of the events. We know how purblind that view can be. The Doctor could base his account on those witness accounts in all good faith. Researching by post with only amateur resources could easily give a distorted view of the events. What library resources did he have? I don't know. I respect his attempt at any rate. We rightly expect much better work from a professional but not, I suggest from an amateur.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
armidale
Well, yes, but it's quite clear that Dr. Miller thinks that 'Anzacs' simply refers to Antipodeans from the rest of that section. However, as he goes on to muddle up the events of the 9th and 12th October attacks completely, not to mention the plethora of other factual errors which litter the article, rational discussion of the contents of this farrago is pretty futile.

Mark

There may be the slightest possibility that the basis on which you dismiss Dr Miller's contribution might be used to question the validity of your response. He is condemed for being a publicist for the Antipodeans, you may have a tendency to be slightly Bury centric. For example you mention Captain Jeffries VC without conceding he had a given name or that he was an antipodean. Compare that with "One of these was commanded by Bury Grammar School old boy Captain Frank Bentley, who was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the battle".

My request to you for elaboration was based on my understanding that Australians had reached the ruins of a church in Passchendaele, and I sincerely thank you for your reply. Thanks also to the net, I was able to access the Official History on the AWM website. Not only was the internet not available to the good Doctor, nor was the hardcopy Official History which did not appear for nearly another decade. The OH did record that Australians reached the church, stating that this was about 600 yards from the point reached by the 66th British Division, and noted that they had located some members of that Division.

I do not find it so unforgivable that Dr Miller mixed up events of the two dates you mentioned. It has been conceded, I think, that he was working fro survivors' recollections well after the events. Perusal of Red Cross files repeatedly throws up glaring inconsistencies in the accounts given by eye witnesses to most battles of WW1. An extension of your dismissal of the Doctor's work on the basis of his misidentifying events by 3 days might suggest that we should disregard all information contained in Red Cross files as it cannot be 100% factual.

Added.

Mark I notice your statement that your references are BG before Google. It may be worth conceding that the doctor predated all nominated sources by yonks. In fact his references were BC before Computers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark Hone

Armidale. My criticism is not based in the slightest on claims that Dr. Miller is a publicist for the Aussies, simply that he gets loads of facts wrong! Likewise, I assure you that I had no sinister intent in failing to mention the full name or nationality of the gallant Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries. For the record, I have close family and friendship links with Australia and have visited the sites of the VC actions of both Captain Jeffries and Sergeant Lewis McGee, as well as their graves at Tyne Cot Cemetery, on a number of occasions.

I still find it impossible to accept that Dr. Miller didn't have plenty of accurate and readily accessible sources available to him when he wrote his piece in 1993. Surely the Australian Official History was published as long ago as the 1930s-why do you say that he had no access to a 'hard copy' version? Three of the four sources I listed in my post on the 9th October battle had been published by the time the Doctor wrote his talk. Likewise, computers (admittedly sans internet) were around long before 1993.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
matthew lucas

the official history hard copy copy not available, good grief when was this written, if Bean's vlume was published in 1931 and as you say this was a decade in the future, Edmonds volume in 1948 and even the one volume canadian history in the 60's . This should have nothing to do with the internet. a good historian goes to the sources and checks and checks again and cross references. Even a modern oral historian will use the recordings at the AWM or IWM, they are not going to sit inforn of this and google what they want, its a tool that is all

i lived in australia whilst i reserarched my PHD, i did not google, i spent days and days at the AWM, in the archives and listening to veterans on tape, then using sources in library's in Australia , then repeated this in Canadia, as historians we must mot get hung up on the internet, it is not the be all and end all, usefull though it is

matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...