The Battle for Passchendaele - October 1917


This is a very small portion of a very long panorama photograph which my Grandfather had kept since the First World War (WW1). The actual photo is an amalgamation of ten standard panorama photos, taken with a special camera. The overall length of the photograph is 4.1 metres. In terms of sweep angle, the photo covers about 155 degrees (a full circle is 360 degrees), so it is slightly less than a semi-circle.

The date on the photograph is 24th October 1917, and it was taken from near Poelcappelle (see maps below for the actual position). Panoramas such as these were used by the British Intelligence to plan their war campaign. The panorama sweeps from Houthulst Forest to Passchendaele (see map below), and gives a very graphic picture of the abominable mess that became of the countryside.

Map ©2015 Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Board of Studies NSW.
Map is available online HERE

Map ©2013 Clive Gilbert, and can be found on the Epsom and Ewell History Explorer site

This map shows the camera position as beside a road on the north-east outskirts of Poelcappelle.
The dashed line is the approximate front, as at mid-October 1917.

Click on the image to open a low-resolution version of the entire photo (opens in new window/tab).

Search and view the entire photograph on-line

The photograph was originally scanned into 20 separate images. The AWM photograph reference is P02416.
Individual photos are numbered P02416.001 to P02416.020 - click on the link below to see these.
Photos 1-20

In June 2015, the 20 separate images were stitched together to re-create the entire original 155-degree panorama.
The final panorama is reference P02416.021 - click on the link below.
entire panorama photo


The following extract is taken from a book about the 37th Battalion, called
THE THIRTY-SEVENTH - "History of the Thirty-Seventh Battalion A.I.F."
by N. G. McNICOL, and was published in 1936.

left or right-click to view either page

The conditions were appalling. The countryside was a terrible landscape of mud, blood, the dead and wounded. The first-aid station had been set up in a German 'pill-box'.

This is a transcript of his D.S.O. citation:

       X             X                X               X
       "With reference to the award as announced in the
London Gazette, dated 17th December 1917, the following is
the statement of service for which the decoration was conferred:

        Captain  WILLIAM  HENRY  COLLINS,  D.S.O

        For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.
Finding that his regimental stretcher-bearers were unable to
find a regimental aid post which he had established in a German
"pill-box," he personally led the first party of them through
an intense artillery and machine gun fire barrage. Although
knocked down by a bursting shell, he immediately resumed the
dressing of the wounded. Although owing to casualties, he had
only two men to help him, he courageously persevered with his
work and himself helped to excavate a dug-out for the wounded
under heavy shell fire, during which several of the wounded
were killed. He remained on duty for sixty hours, and refused
to leave his post till the last wounded man had been evacuated.
By his constant cheerfulness under the most adverse conditions,
and by his utter disregard for his own safety, he kept up the
spirits of the wounded and stimulated his surviving helpers to
their utmost effort.

       X             X                X               X

        The above has been promulgated in Commonwealth of

Australia Gazette, No. 150, dated 24th September, 1918.

left or right-click to view
He was mentioned in despatches, and received the D.S.O. for his gallantry.

I have many other photos - click HERE to see some more.


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