The Battle of Poelcappelle – 9 October 1917

This was designed to build on the British successes of the previous days. Unfortunately heavy rain had again turned the ground into a sea of mud. The British were keen to bring up artillery to support their infantry, but found this extremely difficult because of the conditions. The British only made significant progress near Houthulst Wood and Veldhoek in the north of the battlefield. This battle was therefore considered to be a success for the defending German troops. Losses were heavy on both sides.

THE BATTLE OF PASSCHENDAELE, JULY-NOVEMBER 1917 Men of the 4th Battalion, Coldstream Guards sitting on a captured German howitzer (possibly 10.5 cm Feldhaubitze M.12) outside a German concrete blockhouse on the outskirts of Houlthulst Forest during the Battle of Poelcappelle, 9 October 1917. Copyright: © IWM (Q 6046). 

14 German officers and men were captured who would eventually be imprisoned at Skipton. Eleven were recorded as captured at Poelcappelle itself. The same number were sent straight to Colsterdale in the Yorkshire Dales. A further two were admitted to hospital at Dartford. The final prisoner was shipped to Southampton. Apart from one sergeant who was severely wounded, all the other men captured were junior officers and of these 10 were only slightly wounded.

2nd Lieutenant Georg Fiedler was born and bred in Kassel near the centre of today’s Germany. He was 29 years old at the time of his capture. As an officer in the German army it is possible that he attended a grammar school in or near Kassel. We know that British army interpreter Edward Snee also attended grammar school in Kassel, but sadly for those readers who enjoy coincidences Lt Snee was some nine years older having been born in 1879 and was therefore not likely to be in the same school at the same time.

Fiedler was later admitted to Keighley War Hospital in February 21 1919 and died of influenza 8 days later.

2nd Lieutenant Karl von Spankeren lived in what was then Montjoie in north-west Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm changed the name of the town to Monschau in 1918.