Listen: War historian Matt MacLachlan in a special package commemorating the Third Battle of Ypres, produced by Stephen O’Doherty. Photo: War Cemetery and memorial at Ypres (iStock).
Imagine if a single event caused the death of 38,000 young Australian lives in a period of just eight weeks.
Such was the cost of the Battle for Passchendaele, otherwise known as the Third Battle for Ypres in September – October 1917.
To commemorate the centenary of this campaign Open House spoke with Matt MacLachlan, an historian who leads tours to the battlefields of the Western Front.
This special package concludes with the voice of Queenslander Ted Smout, the last veteran of the Western Front, who passed away in 2004 at the age of 106. We thank Peter Rubinstein for permission to use that audio, more of which can be heard at the Australian War Memorial site.
The music used in this package is from the 2nd movement of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Pastoral Symphony. A significant British composer of the early 20th century, Vaughan Williams served as an ambulance officer and in the artillery on the Western front. The pastoral nature of the music depicts beautiful fields but carries manacling and tragic undercurrents as a commentary on war. The prominent sound of the bugler practising (and hitting wrong notes) became part of his mental image of the landscape of the warfields, and the inspiration for this symphony.
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