The Battle Of Passchendaele

November 6, 2011 by staff 

The Battle Of Passchendaele, AUTUMN 1916 saw a series of small-scale battles which were a feature of all three of the major offensives of the First World War.

Massive frontal assaults at the Somme, Arras and Passchendaele campaigns all reduced in the scale of fighting after the initial objectives failed through bad planning, poor tactics, inadequate artillery concentration or just the sheer difficulty of always being forced to attack an enemy well dug in on higher ground.

The final battle of the Somme campaign – The battle of the Ancre – brought a heavy loss of life for Northumberland Fusiliers of the 50th Division and the many local men enlisted in the RNVR who were posted to the Royal Naval Division.

The 188th and 189th Brigades (part of the 63rd Division) were comprised from battalions of the Royal Naval Division.

Many who filled their ranks were local to Tyneside.

On November 13 they were in the opening actions of the attack intended to seize the heights around Beaumont Hamel and Beaucourt.

Meeting heavy resistance and withering machine gun fire they struggled forward.

However, heavy losses meant they became ineffective as individual units and had to be rallied in mixed groups of those remaining uninjured.

A small force of barely 100 from the Howe, Anson and Nelson battalions succeeded in taking their first objective.

On the next day the 2nd Australian Division was joined in the attack with support from men of the 149th Brigade – part of the wholly Territorial 50th Division and mainly formed from units of the Northumberland Fusiliers and Durham Light Infantry.

These men were ‘territorials’ from pre-war days, augmented by volunteers from the early months of the war; and some of the early conscripts then being brought into fighting units after initial training.

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