Passchendaele Canadian Memorial (Crest Farm)
The Passchendaele Canadian Memorial marks the place where the men of the Canadian Corps, commanded by General Arthur Currie, finally took possession of the high ground at Crest Farm after ferocious fighting in the Second Battle of Passchendaele between 26th October and 10th November 1917. The Canadian Corps comprised the Canadian 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Divisions. The cost in casualties of the final victory by the end of the battle was very high, with approximately 4,000 men being killed, 7,700 men being wounded, and over 1,000 men suffering from being gassed but not fatally injured.
Site for a Canadian Memorial
This is one of five Canadian First World War memorial sites in Belgium. Three other Canadian memorial sites are located in France. All eight sites were given to Canada by the Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) for the commemoration of its war dead and in memory of all those who fought in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
The site at Vimy Ridge, as the commemoration of the Canadian divisions at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, was chosen by the Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission as the site for the winning entry in the competition to design the Canadian memorials. It was a large-scale monument with two huge stone pylons designed by Walter Seymour Allward. The second prize-winner was the design by Frederick C Clemesha of the bust of a soldier with his hands resting on his reversed rifle. That design was chosen to be located at Vancouver Corner to commemorate the gas cloud attacks of April 1915 and the part played by the Canadian Division in the Second Battle of Ypres.
The remaining six sites were marked with a smaller, but no less important, design of monument and gardens consisting of a circular terrace with a granite block in the centre of it, with appropriate inscriptions to commemorate the particular battle and those who fought in it.
The memorial is a granite block situated on a circular flagstone terrace. The memorial, its grass lawns and paths are surrounded by a holly hedge and maple trees.
An inscription engraved into two sides of the memorial states on the one side, facing the church of Passchendaele village, in English:
THE CANADIAN CORPS IN OCT - NOV 1917 ADVANCED ACROSS THIS VALLEY - THEN A TREACHEROUS MORASS - CAPTURED AND HELD THE PASSCHENDAELE RIDGE
and on the other side, facing the direction and valley from where the Canadian troops attacked this ground, in French:
APRES AVOIR FRANCHI SOUS UN FEU MEURTRIER LA REDOUTABLE FONDRIERE QU'ETAIT ALORS CE VALLON L'ARMEE CANADIENNE S'EMPARA DE CETTE CRETE ET S'Y MAINTINT --- OCTOBRE-NOVEMBRE 1917
A plaque by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada reads, in four languages:
The Battle of Passchendaele (October-November 1917)
“Faced with an experienced enemy entrenched in a dominating position, Canadians fought with extraordinary courage and determination under intense fire to capture Passchendaele ridge. Advancing in horrific conditions through mud that was often waist-deep, the Canadian Corps sustained approximately 16,000 casualties during this assault, an immense cost that testifies to the nearly impossible objective set by the British high command. Nine Canadian soldiers were awarded the Victoria Cross for their outstanding valour, more than in any other battle in the history of Canada.”
The Passchendaele Canadian Memorial is located just to the west of Passchendaele village. It is situated at the end of a road called Canadalaan which leads from the centre of the village directly to the memorial.
Latitude N 50° 53' 52" ; Longitude E 3° 0' 48"
There is parking at the memorial.
Military Operations: France and Belgium, 1917, Volume II: Messines and third Ypres (Passchendaele), Brigadier-General Sir James E. Edmonds, 1948
Veterans Affairs Canada. Website: www.veterans.gc.ca