We spent most of today following Granda’s war in 1917, in two key places:
Battle of Messines 7 June 1917
This was one of the very few tactically successful battles of the war. The attack commenced with the detonation of 19 large mines followed immediately by an attack up the low ridge from Wijtschates to Mesen. The 9th RIF were involved as a Reserve Battalion so were not directly involved in the fighting but relieved the Royal Irish Rifles following the first day’s fighting. The little cemetery at Spanbroekmolen is full of RIR soldiers killed that day.
We have very little from Granda during that time, mainly a few field postcards.
Today, one of the mine craters in the sector where Granda was has become a Pool of Peace, as a memorial to the people killed in that area.
Battle of Langemarck 16 August 1917
This was a different story. The 9th RIF were almost completely wiped out and were forced to retreat to their original lines. It is impossible to imagine the horror of the liquid mud of the Passchendaele battlefield from the fertile farmland (arable, a lot of cabbages) of today. But the one thing we did notice was how dominating even a little relief was – a few metres made all the difference.
The horror becomes more tangible in Tyne Cot cemetery and memorial, where there are 168 names of men from Granda’s Battalion on 16-18 August alone.