Steve Guy

Passchendaele: the foulness of their fate

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The battle which came to be known as Passchendaele took place in Belgium in the second half of 1917. Steve Guy describes the horror faced by soldiers crawling through mud that had become like quicksand.

At the south east corner of the town of Ypres stands the Menin Gate, a vaulted arch mausoleum built of red brick and Portland stone and opened in 1927. It is a memorial to the missing British and Commonwealth soldiers from the five battles that took place in the area beyond the town during the First World War, known as the Ypres salient.

"Consider us as having died today or tomorrow"

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The Battle of the Somme started on 1 July 1916 and dragged on until the following November. Steve Guy describes the rigid class divisions between officers and rank and file soldiers and the snobbery of generals such as Haig, that became major features behind the subsequent slaughter.

In the years prior to what became known as the Great War, most of the nations that were to become embroiled in the conflict had standing armies numbering hundreds of thousands. The empires of Austro-Hungary and Tsarist Russia, Germany and France all used conscription — enforced recruitment — in varying degrees, to maintain their numbers.

Remember Germans' role in Middle East

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Simon Guy’s article (“The Use and Abuse of the Arab Revolt”, June SR) is a timely reminder of the role of imperialism in the Great War in the formation of the Arab world today.

However I would just like to point out that it was not inevitable that the Ottoman Empire sided with the Central Powers, but the result of an assiduous campaign by the Germans, heavily subsidised by German finance capital and fronted by Kaiser Wilhelm II.

'Damn the Dardanelles!'

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In December 1915 the evacuation of allied troops from the Dardanelles straits in the Ottoman Empire finally began. A century on Steve Guy looks at the significance of the allies' failed Gallipoli campaign.

A century ago allied troops retreated, defeated, from the shores of Turkey after the eight-month Dardanelles campaign. The allies — Britain, France and Russia — had wanted to carve up the Ottoman Empire — Turkey, the Arabian Peninsula, Mesopotamia (Iraq and Syria) and the area south of the Caucasus mountain range.

The British and French wanted Mesopotamia, which was known to be rich in oil deposits, while Russia wanted Constantinople, which would give it unfettered access to the Mediterranean.

Remember 1915

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It seems like celebrating 70th anniversaries has become very popular recently, and the hoo-hah around VE Day is no exception.

Carefully forgotten is the 100th anniversary of 1915, the second year of the First World War, which most British (and French) military historians and politicians would rather forget.

By August 1915 some 60,000 troops of the British Expeditionary Force were casualties (about 35 percent), while France had lost a staggering 1 million men!

And that’s not to mention the unmitigated disaster on Turkey’s Gallipoli peninsula.

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