In June 1917, the 8thEast Lancs were summoned north into the Ypres sector.  Throughout the coming campaign, the battalion would usually be involved in diversionary actions to the main fighting.  Formally entitled as ‘The Battles of Ypres, 1917’, the campaign is popularly known as ‘Passchendaele’.  

 

The first test came on 31 July, the first day of Passchendaele.  Close to Oosterverne, the battalion attacked Rifle Farm, south of the Salient in increasingly wet weather.  Again the battalion had difficulties attaining their objective in tha face of withering fire and difficult conditions underfoot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The small building marks the position of Rifle Farm, photographed from June farm, as it is today.  The farm before the first day of Passchendael concealed a German pill box which was only exposed when the farm buildings were demolished.

 

 

Much of the battalion's time was spent as a working party, carrying materials up to the front for other units.  The men returned to the trenches in early October, holding the line during the battles of Poelcapelle and Broodseinde, opposite Gheluvelt.  This was to be theie last significant tour of duty.

 

In February 1918, as part of the British Army's reorganisation of its divisions, the 8th East Lancs were disbanded.  Half of the battalion joined the 11th East Lancs (Accrington Pals), while a significant number formed the 15th Entrenching Battalion, which was almost destroyed during the Germans' March offensives.  Many of the officers joined 2nd East Lancs.  Only one officer who had embarked in France on 1 August 1915 remained - Captain Bentley.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain G.W.H. Bentley

 

 

Hill 60

 

On 22 September 1917, the battalion was ordered up to the front line at Hill 60, one of the most infamous places in the Ypres sector.

 

 

As the men made their way forward in the dark, through a trench system unknown to them a shell landed in the midst of one of the platoons, killing twenty men and wounding countless others.  It was the battalion's biggest single loss to shell fire during the war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of those killed was Pte. Arthur Warth, a 32 year old man from Rossendale.

 

Another was 33 year old Private Fred Sandford.  Born in Essex, Sandford enlisted at Darwen.  He is buried at Railway Dugouts, close to Hill 60. His gravestone has a touching epitaph:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It reads:

Loved in Life

Honoured in Death

Worthy Everlasting Love

From His Loving Wife and child

 

 

 

8th East Lancs

Dedicated to the men of the 8th (Service) Battalion,

East Lancashire Regiment in the Great War.