Article Index

CHAPTER 9 focuses on the gradual devastation of the Flemish landscape and the progressively worsening conditions during the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917, as experienced by Saxon 23. Reserve-Division at Bixschoote, Pilckem, Langemarck and Passchendaele.

Since this division was deployed on the area of the battle from March until September of that terrible year, we considered them an ideal choice through which to explore the horrific transformation of the whole region around the ruined city.

The emphasis here is not on individual deeds and the details of the fighting, but on the increasingly harsh conditions and their physical and mental effects on the unfortunate men who were inspected to endure them.

In addition to numerous previously unpublished photos from the units of 23. Reserve-Division, we have also 'cheated' a little by including some contemporary pictures from the nearby Prussian Danziger Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 128 which graphically illustrate the hellish state of the battlefield that September.

Funeral of Sanit├Ąts-Unteroffizier Eduard Herrmann of IR 392 at Manneken Farm in April 1917

Above: This photo is one of a series depicting the dignified individual funeral of Sanit├Ąts-Unteroffizier Eduard Herrmann of IR 392 (killed on 20th April 1917) at Manneken Farm on the southern edge of Houthulst Forest. Another picture in the series (with bared heads) appears on p.180 of 'For King and Kaiser'. At this time deaths were still relatively infrequent and received proper individual commemoration. By October this entire area would become a flooded wasteland of anonymous mass death, one of the most hellish places on the entire Western Front. During that terrible phase of the battle, Saxon 40. Infanterie-Division and 58. Infanterie-Division would fight side by side in defence of the poisoned and blasted forest.

For King and Kaiser - sample pages

Above: Sample pages from For King and Kaiser (chapter 9).