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The Canadian "Emma Gees"
A History of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps
Lt.-Col. C.S. Grafton

Transcribed by Dwight G. Mercer

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seinde, and on the right they pushed up the valley, where runs the Weiltje-Passchendaele road, and ran their line of connected shell holes up beyond the Gravenstafel cross roads and Abraham Heights to Berlin Wood. But they were short some 3,000 yards of their original objective, the Village of Passchendaele itself which hung on the crest of the low ridge to which it gave its sombre name - a ridge that looked little more than a ripple in the flatness of this sodden Belgian landscape but yet gave dominance over the plain stretching away toward Roulers, important railway centre.

At a terrific cost in lives, under conditions that were always to remain a monument to British courage, to bulldog tenacity, the line had now been established along the main series of ridges for 9,000 yards from the starting point at Mount Sorrell.

The operations had first been launched with a vision of sweeping the Germans off this system of ridges, sending them pell-mell over the plains approaching Roulers and thrusting on to clear them out of their Flemish bases and cut their communications to their submarine bases on the coast.

What had been conceived in the dry months as a tremendous two week smash had now prolonged itself into two months of battering against two foes - mud and the Germans. Even had the weather been normal, the newly-devised system of elastic defence based on heavily-armored pill-boxes, commandingly placed and which were impervious to direct hits by 12-inch shells, would have given the Germans an even chance in the defence of these low, sprawling ridges. With the clinging, slimy mud as an ally the Germans had slowed the operation down to a soggy crawl.

But even if two months of continual rain had shrunken the original conception down to trench raid proportions, yet there were still presented weighty reasons why the British should keep the initiative.

Seemingly overwhelming disasters in Russia and Italy made the grim necessities of the salient, and finally its climax, Passchendaele, look microscopic by comparison but no less forbidding for all of that. The weakened morale of the French further fanned the urgency and a continuation of the "limited operations" were still more necessary to focus still more German attention while the Cambrai "surprise" of November 20th was still simmering.

On October 9th the British had continued their push, reaching Houlthulst Forest, the final objective on the north, but the assault of October 12th, farther south, sent off after 48 hours more downpour, completely bogged down in impassable swamps and was abandoned.

To keep the enemy's attention two more weeks and to shove him ...

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