16 August 1917: 6 Skipton POWs captured at Langemarck

The Battle of Langemarck – 16th August 1917

Some historians view the Battle of Passchendaele as a series of discrete attacks punctuated by periods of resupply and coupled with continual losses by attrition. On 16 August the British resumed the major attack which had commenced on 31st July. A lull in the seemingly continuous rain had allowed the British to transport the necessary men and materials across the muddy terrain. Inevitably it had rained heavily in the days immediately before this renewed attack.

THE BATTLE OF PASSCHENDAELE, JULY-NOVEMBER 1917  German prisoners captured in the Battles of Ypres. Near Proven, 16th August 1917. Copyright: © IWM (Q 2720). 

Six ‘Skipton’ prisoners were captured on 16 August 1917. Five of these were at the village of Langemarck while 2nd Lieutenant Johannes Sterk was recorded as being captured at Zonnebeke, 4 miles to the south-east. All five Langemarck prisoners were wounded and all were admitted straight to hospital. Lieutenants Unruh and Wendel had slight gunshot wounds to the right arm and face respectively. Private Przybilla had a slight shrapnel wound to his left eye, while Lieutenant Doege had severe shrapnel wounds to his arms, right shoulder and the left of his chest.

Lieutenant Doege was a non-commissioned officer who had been promoted to become a regular officer. Lieutenant Daniels had been similarly promoted. These promoted NCOs tended to be older than many of the other soldiers. Daniels was 40 years old while Doege was two years younger. They were not permitted to receive any further promotions.

Three of the six were born in Germany while the remaining three had been born in what is now Poland.

The British succeeded in capturing the village of Langemarck. Some ground was lost to German counterattacks in the late afternoon. A new British line was established to the east of the village ready for the next stage of the campaign. The conditions during the battle had been simply atrocious.