20 September 1917: German doctor & 7 others captured at Passchendaele

The British had been getting ready for another big push. The weather had been dry enough for paths and tracks to be prepared to transport men and materials to the front. The ground was even sufficiently dry for trenches to be dug without the risk of flooding. Even the weather on morning of the attack favoured the British with a low mist having spread itself across the low-lying Flanders landscape. This was the start of five days of fighting which later became known as the Battle of the Menin Road.

Eight German soldiers, who would later be sent to Skipton, were among those who would be captured on 20 September 1917; two enlisted men, five second lieutenants and an assistant doctor.

All the men were wounded: two were suffering from the effects of shrapnel, the others from gunshot wounds. Four were cases were serious; the others were only slightly wounded.

THE BATTLE OF PASSCHENDAELE, JULY-NOVEMBER 1917  Three German prisoners, one wounded, captured in the attack on Vampire Farm near Potijze, during the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, 20 September 1917. Copyright: © IWM (Q 2861)

Four of the prisoners were simply listed as captured at Ieper/Ypres while the other four were captured at locations on or about the Menin Road: Zandvoorde, Herenthage Park, Gheluvelt Wood and the Menin Road, itself.

The assistant doctor was Karl Günther who was 26 years old at the time of his capture. He had previously been a medical student. He had been born and bred in Zellingen in Bavaria. Most German service records were destroyed during World War II. Günther’s service records survive because he was a member of a Bavarian regiment. Unfortunately the records are handwritten, and handwritten records can prove very difficult to read. He had, however, been stationed between the Rivers Maas and Mosel between May and August 1917. He was specifically mentioned as being involved with the fighting around St. Mihiel to the south of Verdun. He was transferred to Flanders in late August 1917 where he was to remain until his capture.

Günther was one of the first batch of officers to enter Skipton Camp on 17 January 1918.