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Mud and misery

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November 18, 2017

This week in 1917 it was the turn of the Canadian Corps to attack in the mud and misery of Passchendaele.

This week in 1917 it was the turn of the Canadian Corps to attack in the mud and misery of Passchendaele.

Their General, Sir Arthur Currie, examined the soggy battlefield and estimated it would cost 16000 Canadian dead to take the Ridge.

The Canadians would take Passchendaele Ridge at their fourth attempt in mid November.

Currie was right, 16000 Canadians would die out of a force of 100000.

Haig, bereft of commonsense as always, then ordered small tidying up battles that meant that the Entente forces pushed forward from Passchendaele Ridge.

They would spend the European winter in the mud at the valley bottom beyond Passchendaele.

The Germans would look down on their position from the drier ground atop the next small Flanders ridge.

This week saw the execution of Margaretha Zelle by a French firing squad near Paris.

Striptease artiste and sometime prostitute, Zelle was better known by her stage name of Mata Hari meaning Eye of the Day in Bahasa Indonesia.

The accusation that she had been spying for the Germans was long controversial. However, recently opened files clearly revealed she was indeed a German spy.

With German army and naval forces moving ever closer to St Petersburg, the Russian Provisional Government prepared to move to Moscow.

Two halves of the 1711km Australian Transcontinental Railway joined up in a desolate part of the South Australian desert this week.

The railway did not cross a single permanent watercourse.

Construction had begun in September 1912.

Meanwhile in Benalla the weekly Royal Pictures show was discontinued. The Great Strike had meant coal restrictions. Without coal, the projector could not be used.

However, the movies would not be long in returning. The strike was settled this week.

Rail traffic was expected to be heavy as railways returned to normal after the strike. Three additional shifts were arranged to cope with expected traffic.

At 2.38am on Tuesday, 100 years ago, a meteor passed over Benalla in the northern sky going in the direction of the police paddock. It lit up the countryside as brightly as if it had been noon.

On Sunday evening, 36-year-old Joseph Buttler fatally shot his stepfather Sam Costin at Goornmadda. Buttler had been standing on the verandah of the family’s house when Sam fell dead about five metres away.

Sixty-year-old Sam and his other stepson had just returned home in a gig. Buttler denied knowing anything about the shooting.

Buttler was arrested and charged with murder. The case would be heard in the Beechworth Supreme Court. Buttler would be convicted of manslaughter. He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with hard labour. Buttler had been drinking heavily and remembered nothing of the deed.

— John Barry, Anzac Commemorative Working Party, Coo-ee — Honouring our WWI Heroes

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