There was blood, sticky red blood, plenty of blood. There was mud, sticky, life sucking, drowning mud. And there was courage, real courage, as the whistles blew and thousands upon thousands of men clambered from the relative safety of the trenches into the hell of flying bullets that was no-man’s land. The start of a hundred-day battle in July 1917 which would end with half a million Allied and German dead in Belgium. And among the fallen at Passchendaele were three men from Stithians.
First to die was Private Thomas Henry Choak of the Devonshire Regiment. Born in Stithians he was the second son of Henry and Annie Choak. He was taking part in a major divisional attack on the fourth of October when a sniper killed him.
Next was John Knuckey on the 28th of October. He was in the Australian infantry and was just 21 when he died while capturing an enemy pill box in and around Ypres. He was a farm labourer and the son of John and Elizabet Jane Knuckey of Pembroath. He was the younger brother of James who had come to Australia to visit him when they both joined up together. Sadly, James had been killed on the 3rd of May that year – imagine the grief of their parents receiving the second dreadful telegram.
Horace Garfield Hughs was living in Stithians when he enlisted into the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. At six in the morning on the 6th of November he was part of an attack on Polderhoek Chateau. Bombing parties fought it out on both sides but the battalion was forced to withdraw and Horace was one of 123 soldiers and 11 men killed, wounded or missing that day from his regiment.