Skip to comments.'Preserved' WWI British officer found 90 YEARS ON (In Flanders)
Posted on 05/30/2005 8:17:51 PM PDT by nickcarraway
THE remarkably well preserved remains of a British officer, killed in one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, have been discovered in the mud of Flanders.
The man, still wearing his gas cape, boots and helmet, was killed during the battle of Passchendaele almost 90 years ago.
A Commonwealth War Graves Commission team is due to arrive in Belgium today to help identify the Lancashire Fusiliers' officer, whose remains were found by archaeologists.
The officer, who was found on Friday, is one of more than 58,000 men who fought in the notorious Ypres Salient in Belgium during the Great War with no known grave. Some half-a-million allied soldiers died in the mud and blood of this sector of the western front before the assault intended to smash the German line was called off after four months.
The officer was apparently buried hastily, according to the man leading the archaeological team searching a railway embankment that cut through the British and German lines during the battle. Among items found on his body were a wallet containing a stamp and a silver case of cigarettes.
Franky Bostyn, curator of the Passchendaele Museum, said the man also had a wristwatch.
"He was in a shell hole wrapped in his gas cape and when we carefully removed that, we saw the whole body was completely preserved," he said. "He was not buried, just thrown in, but he had his full equipment on him."
The dense blue clay of Flanders is credited with preserving the soldier's equipment and personal belongings. Juergen Debeleye, the museum's deputy head of research, said: "The clay is a marvellous preservative. The buttons on his tunic shone like new and we could tell instantly what regiment he was with.
"This was a wonderful find. He even had his wallet with him, and a Bible was found near the body. He would have been buried very quickly. We hope to have an identity for the man soon.
"It will be wonderful to give a name to an unknown soldier, for his family to know he can at last be buried with full military honours."
When they figure out how to wage war on a tactic rather than an enemy.
Yes, they are astounding. It brings one to realize the number Russia (USSR) lost not only during the War but also in the purges, starvations, more purges, and in the WWII!
This explained much of the USSR's fear of war and their military build-ups!
The sad thing is that the western powers had sent observers to the US Civil War but learned nothing from that slaughter. Mix in machine guns and more trenches and you get WWI.
True enough. The last few months of the war saw both the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac locked in the same static trench warfare that Europe would see 50 years later.
European observers dismissed the lessons as the result of amateurs playing war and ignored the effects of rifled muskets and concentrated artillery on mass lines of troops marching across an open field. They still thought that Napoleonic warfare was viable, and would go on thinking that till they bled Europe white.
Of course, there were more than a few Union and Confederate generals who were still enamored of Napoleon themselves, including Lee, who blew the war at Gettysburg by ordering Pickett's Charge, a hopeless attempt to break the Union center. He told Longstreet that by breaking the center, he'd crush the Yankees like Napoleon had done at Austerlitz. All he managed to accomplish was waste a lot of his troops lives for nothing, something the British, French, and German generals would prove themselves more than adept at 50 years later.
I suppose I know what old Juergen means, but still... br-r-r-r-r!
"Ghoulish" comes to mind.
Good points. Lee was a great believer in trench warfare and used trenching to great effect. He was called the "king of spades" by his own troops.
But some learn...Consider the German staff officers who devoured Charles DeGaulle's seminal works on mobile armor warfare. There were Franks and Allemeni who learned from the monstrous failures of the elders in the Great War..