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4. The German Cemetery

The only major German cemetery on the Salient, it contains no less than 44,292 burials in mass graves. One alone contains some 25,000 souls. So dark and so dull, with black headstones unlike the white of the Allies.
On to Tyne Cott Cemetery, so named because the Northumberland Fusiliers likened the German pill boxes (two of which remain in the cemetery) to Tyneside cottages. Tyne Cott is on the Passchendaele Ridge, known to Tommy as Passiondale. In taking the Ridge, British losses amounted to 300,000 killed or missing – 35 for every metre of ground gained! 70% of the graves in the cemetery are unidentified men, who in many cases lost their lives to the Passchendaele mud, which sucked into its morass a man and all means of his identity. Taken in November 1917, it was decided to withdraw in the Spring of 1918 during what was to be the last major German offensive of the war in order to shorten the line. We were here to honour our last villager, Private G. Kemp.
Our wreath laid and the Exhortation duly read, we moved on to our final call – Zonnebeke – a chateau on the outskirts of Passchendaele village, where you can go down underground to experience life as it was in an underground bunker – all this in perfect sunshine, unlike our forebears who spent days on end ankle deep in mud.

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