Letters From The Bowes Brothers – June 28, 1920 St. Andrew’s Manse, New Glasgow, N.S.

November 5, 2013 by Tom MacGregor

Dear Mrs. Bowes,

Your letter of June 11th arrived today and I am answering by return mail. You would have no difficulty in finding the cemeteries where your first two sons were buried and I am glad that you have had the melancholy pleasure of getting over to visit the graves. About our movements at Passchendaele where Clifford was buried: I have looked up the maps and diary and all my data and will give you what I can, though you might not be able to find the grave. You remember that all this territory was again in the hands of the enemy in 1918 at the time of the German thrust before they were pushed back and beaten. In that with the usual accompaniments of the cannonading the marks could easily be obliterated, but I hope you will be able to find them.

Looking at the map the grave would not be “3/4 of a mile south west of Zonnebeke” unless the body was carried back after the fighting was over. This may have been done, for that was often done where it was safe and possible to do it. The 44th Battalion Base was just a short distance beyond Ypres (that is where the horses, etc. were kept) at a place called Potije, nearer Ypres considerably than Zonnebeke—but the fighting where Clifford was killed was far beyond either of these.

If you follow on the road farther till you get nearly to Passchendaele village, there is a place called on the maps Crest Farm. It is perhaps 800 yards from Passchendaele. Our boys rushed on from Crest Farm according to my diary, made about 400 yards. When the attack stopped they were about 125 yards from the nearest house in Passchendaele or about 600 yards from the town proper. Clifford was in the front line when he was killed, and would probably be buried at some point very near where he fell for there was no chance for movement under the enemy’s fire at that time…unless later the body was taken back to the neighbourhood of Zonnebeke or some other cemetery.

I am afraid this is all I can give you and I hope it may be of help. You can depend upon this information, though the distances I give may not be absolutely exact they will be very nearly correct and I hope that with this you may be able to find the grave. If you pick up Crest Farm and then follow the country round about that—even go back a bit, if there are any cemeteries near at hand you should be able to find it. At any rate you will be over the exact ground where the charge took place and where he fell. I should like to know if you find the place. Will you write me?

Hoping you may be successful

Very sincerely yours,

George Farquhar

 

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