Kommandant Clink at the Ready

As our Commander in Chief starts to point us off to Syria and Iraq for yet another crusade, permit me to share this trinket about a poet's death briefly mentioned in the midst of a far larger human toll. The Welsh poet "Hedd Wyn" (sound it out) died in the Third Battle of Ypes otherwise known as the Battle of Passchendaele and here is a report on that battle.

Ellis Humphrey Ellis aka Hedd Wyn
Welsh Poet
Various casualty figures have been published, sometimes with much acrimony, although the highest estimates for British and German casualties appear to be discredited. In the Official History, (1948) Brigadier-General James E. Edmonds put British wounded and killed at 244,897 and claimed that equivalent German figures were not available, estimating German losses at 400,000. Edmonds considered that 30% needed to be added to German statistics to make them comparable with British casualty criteria. In 2007 Jack Sheldon rejected Edmonds's calculations, suggesting that although German casualties 1 June – 10 November were 217,194, a figure available in Volume III of the Sanitätsbericht (1934, Medical Report Concerning the German Army 1914 – 1918) Edmonds may not have included them as they did not fit his case. Sheldon noted 182,396 slightly wounded and sick soldiers not struck off unit strength which if included would make German losses 399,000. As yet the British claim to have captured 24,065 prisoners has not been disputed. Two poets, Irishman Francis Ledwidge, 25, of 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, in 29th Division, and Hedd Wyn, a Welsh-language poet serving with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Pilckem Ridge, were both killed in action on 31 July.

I would guess then, our knowledge of history stinks. On and around those days at least a half million soldiers were killed or wounded.  Cincinnati Ohio died as a comparison. When folks trot out the phrase "War to End All Wars", they were not kidding. Too bad we have learned nothing.

Ei aberth nid â heibio - ei wyneb
Annwyl nid â'n ango
Er i'r Almaen ystaenio
Ei dwrn dur yn ei waed o.
His sacrifice was not in vain, his face
In our minds will remain,
Although he left a bloodstain
On Germany's iron fist of pain.

 Hedd Wyn is, by the way, Welsh for "Blessed Peace"