Richmond WW1 Diary 31 July 1917

Image of poppy

Start of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) & Death of Arthur Edward Burt – one of The Alberts dead |

Passchendaele was a small village five miles from Ypres, part of the strategic line along the Messines ridge protecting the Allied ports.

The area saw intense fighting throughout the war and by the end the village was razed to the ground. The Third Battle of Ypres started on 31 July 1917 and lasted until 20 November. Conditions for the men were terrible, with muddy bogs and water-filled craters as dangerous as the enemy fire. The fighting at Passchendaele is of particular significance to the Canadian forces, who suffered heavy casualties under orders to ‘delivery victory’.

Arthur Burt served as a cyclist in the London Cycle Battalion, reaching the rank of Sergeant. He had worked as a telegraph messenger before the war and probably gained his experience of riding a bike then.

Young British Tommies from the Cycle Corps posing with their bikes

The cyclist battalions (click here for a film clip from the Pathé archive) were active in combat but were ineffective in trench warfare conditions. By 1918, when the deadlock of the trenches was overcome, cyclists once more proved invaluable for reconnaissance. in the meantime, soldiers like Arthur were moved to other regiments.

On 31 July 1917, he was serving in the King’s Liverpool Regiment, when he was shot by a sniper.

Arthur was the youngest of three Burt brothers of 13 Audley Road, The Alberts, who left to fight in the war. All were killed.

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