6 November 1917: 12 Skipton POWs captured at Passchendaele

After 99 days and 3 hours allied troops began to enter Passchendaele village itself – a journey of some 5 miles from their starting-off point on 31 July – an advance quite literally conducted at snail’s pace. It would take another 4 days before the entire ridge would be secured.

A dozen German officers were captured that day including Major Bültzingslöwen who would later be the senior German officer at Skipton Camp. Wilhelm Banke, a lieutenant had severe gunshot wounds to his right arm. He was also slightly wounded in his left shoulder and leg. Otto Gummich had slight gunshot wounds to the left side of his chest. All the prisoners were second lieutenants apart from Banke and Bültzingslöwen.

Ten of the prisoners belonged to the same regiment – the 10th Grenadiers. One was with the Field Artillery and the other with the 132nd Infantry Regiment.

Two of the prisoners were aristocrats: the aforementioned Bültzingslöwen, and Werner Hugo Ernst Karl von Lilienhoff-Zwowitzki.

THE BATTLE OF PASSCHENDAELE, JULY-NOVEMBER 1917 Assault on Passchendaele 12 October – 6 November 1917: A soldier running along a corduroy track through Chateau Wood. Originally captioned ‘The Way to the Front’, probably posed. Copyright: © IWM (E(AUS) 1233).

And finally there is a story about General Haig’s Chief of Staff, Sir Launcelot Kiggell who when visiting the battlefield at the end of the campaign, and surveying the mud, the slime and the distorted and twisted remains of battle, was supposed to have broken into tears saying, ‘Good God, did we really send men to fight in that?’ The reply from his companion was reported to have been, ‘It’s worse further on, Sir.’ Whatever the truth of the matter, the tale has become part and parcel of the story of Passchendaele.