Veterans gather to remember murderous mud of Ypres

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The Independent Online
THE rain in north France fell as it did 75 years ago upon the Ypres salient. Then, Flanders' fields were turned into a quagmire and hundreds of thousands fell between Ypres and Passchendaele.

The largest Commonwealth military cemetery at Tyne Cot (above) below the ridge at Passchendaele, six miles to the east of Ypres, has headstones designed by Lutyens and names commemorating 46,892 Allied war dead, most from the Third Battle of Ypres, which started 75 years ago this month.

Walter (Tim) Norris, 93, a veteran of 8th Division Machine Gun Corps (below, at left, with other veterans whose combined ages total 573 years), and six others occupied a German pillbox on top of Hill 60. He endured 20 days behind a Vickers 303 machine gun firing at the enemy 150 yards away before the Germans regained the position. 'It was murder up here - the mud, the mud,' he whispered, as he returned to the site for the first time since 1917 (left). 'The rats used to eat from our billycans.'

(Photograph omitted)