Battle of Polygon Wood 1917
by Jonathan Passlow
Editor: Big Sky Publishing
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Buoyed by the success of the 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions in the Menin Road Battle, the men of the 4th and 5th Australian Divisions deposited at the front of the ready line for the next phase of battleBefore them lay the blackened remains of Polygon Wood, a desolate expanse of pieces of stumps shattered by the devastating shrapnelThe view across no man’s land revealed the German lines of barbed wire and a strongly defended criss-cross trenchesHere and there, Australians could also see concrete bunkers scattered across the landscape.In the center of the battlefield, throned an immense man from a mound of earth of the ButteOnce the mound stopped, for a former artillery officer of the range, this dominant feature was fortified by machine guns, laced with barbed wire and sifted with tunnels and trenches-outs.The Battle of Polygon Wood was the second phase in British forces’ advance on PasschendaeleSuccess at Polygon Wood, would be to place Broodseinde Ridge within the Second Army to reach itBut the whole operation was almost caught off guard by a German counterattack on the eve of battle.The critical situation on the Corps of the Right Anzac was saved only by Pompey Elliott 15th Brigade whose desperate efforts to contain the German attack and seize the Second Army’s objectives of the “beautiful success” tour in a “splendid victory”But, as the author of Jonathan Passlow describes in Polygon Wood 1917, this was a victory that was far from certain, and in which chance play its part
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