The weather had been a nightmare, there was little to no artillery to destroy the German pillboxes and wire before the attack. In addition it turned out that a Scottish deserter had informed the Germans the night before that the New Zealanders were going to attack on the morning of October 12.
4 hours. 845 men dead. 2300 others wounded. Passchendaele was a complete disaster. The New Zelander's had failed.
After a push by Nevinson, C R W
Raining continued nearly all day of the 12th and the difficulties in removing the wounded cases were stupendous. Eight men were required for each stretcher cases, and it took 6 hours to carry one man out in many cases; the carriers being by that time thoroughly worn out.
Brigader General Herbert Hart, Commander 4th Infantry Brigade
Never before seen so many casualties to NZers… whole affair was horrible from start to finish and a great sacrifice of life.
Corporal A.D Bridge, 3rd Battalion
Well there were hundreds of men laying out, around. You couldn’t get them inside, it was an old German concrete emplacement and you couldn't get them all inside, but the doctors were working inside... at one period I believe there were 600 stretcher cases laying round the place in the wet and cold, just dying there where they were dumped off.
Wellington Infantry Battalion
Same Battle, Different Perspectives
Read the following view points from a soldier in the battle and a general making the decisions.
General Alexander Godley
"A bad thing it was. You can thank old General Godley for that lot… One of Godley’s mistakes. Everybody hated Godley. He was severe." - Charlie Lawrence
Passchendaele for General Godley was simply a nightmare. He had promised General Haig the village would be in Allied hands by the afternoon, but instead was left with over 2,500 casualties and a very awkward situation.
Godley tried to minimise the perception of the massacre that had just occurred by emphasising the supposed successes.
When writing to the the New Zealand Minister of Defence a few days after the 1st Battle of Passchendaele, Godley described the attack as 'a very good day's work' and a 'big success'.
He wrote to other important figures in the British military saying the Anzacs had paved the way for the Canadians to take Passchendaele 'without undue difficulty' and that the casualties were 'not unduly heavy'.
Private Leonard Hart
"Some terrible blunder has been made. Someone is responsible for that barbed wire not having been broken up by our artillery. Someone is responsible for the opening of our barrage in the midst of us instead of 150 yards ahead of us. Someone else is responsible for those machine gun emplacements being left practically intact, but the papers will all report another glorious success, and no one except those who actually took part in it will know any different."
Leonard was a member of the 2nd Battalion, Otago Regiment and was involved in the attack on Bellevue Spur 12 October.
Leonard, like many soldiers at Passchendaele, saw through the decisions and actions taken by the generals on the Western Front. His story highlights the impossibility of success on 12 October and ultimately the senseless waste of so many lives. As Leonard foretold, the terrible truth of Passchendaele was downplayed for a while, but with his and others' accounts of the tragedy we can now piece together what caused the massacre.
Passchendaele: Requin for Doomed Youth, Paul Ham
Dark Journey, Glyn Harper
Post-truth: (N) relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less important in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.
Propaganda: (N) information frequently exaggerated or false information, which is spread by political groups in order to influence the public.
Bias: (N) tendency to show prejudice against one group and favouritism towards another, or to be influenced so much by something that you do not judge things fairly.
How does this article portray the battle on 12 October?
Does this give an accurate representation of what happened?
Why do you think the Battle of Passchendaele was reported like this?
Today when conflicts are reported, what might influence the media coverage by news organisations such as CNN, Fox, BBC, Al Jazeera, TVNZ?
With the rise in social media, anyone can post news. What might be the dangers in accessing news via social media sites like Facebook?
In the days and months following the massacre at Passchendaele, there were numerous reports of the events. However, these did not always tell the full story. The influence of propaganda and bias were not always obvious to the readers of news reports. In the post-truth era, has anything changed?
Read the article and think about the following questions.
Yr 9-10 Activity
I won't forget my experience today if I live for a thousand years....
The Somme was pretty bad I'll admit but this is worse. I have never seen such destruction.
..as I saw it today, well it's simply an awful nightmare, a hideous reeling swamp seething with living (and dead) beings.
A place that stamps itself on one's mind like a red hot iron.
Recovering the wounded
After the battle, thousands of dead and barely living men were strewn in the mud all over Flanders. Many who were wounded drowned and died of blood loss waiting for stretcher bearers. Those that had only just survived faced a night in the freezing, wet swamp exposed to hail and driving rain. Reinforcements were ordered to act as stretcher bearers, often needing six men to transport one body. During this time the German troops held their fire, some sympathising with the Anzacs and directing them to bodies of the wounded. One British stretcher bearer noting he had "a respect for the Hun that I never had before".