One of my other passions is military history, war, the causes of war, and the human condition which fosters it. I have a BA(Hons) in it. I did begin a PhD… but that fell by the wayside for many different reasons.
One of my main interests in this regard is the Great War, or WWI, depending on what you wish to call it. The Western Front fascinates me (and clearly, many others) because however you compare it to other wars it was largely unique in its mechanised destruction, and indeed how tactics and strategy changed in a relatively short period. There have been comparisons (incorrectly) in my opinion with the American Civil War, as well as other conflicts, but this was very different in its time and place. It was the first Modern war, fought in a manner soldiers in Afghanistan and modern conflicts would recognise.
Passchendaele, which is also known as the 3rd Battle of Ypres (the first was in 1914) is renowned for mud, which was to become its defining characteristic. Ypres is lowland, close to the Low Countries of Belgium and the Netherlands, and its water table is very high, only one metre below the surface. When the Allied offensive began in August 1917, a months rain fell in three days and the bad weather continued for many months. British artillery churned the surface to a thick soupy mud, deadly and toxic, that sucked troops unlucky enough to fall into it to a terrible drowning death in sticky mud.
This painting is a tribute to everyone who fought in that war, lifted unashamedly from a picture of Australian troops in November 1917. No pocket selfies in those days, this shot would have taken a lot of composition and anyone familiar with this period of history will probably know this photo.