Leeds nostalgia: November 1917: '˜The plodding walk through craters and filth' of Flanders troops during First World War

A hundred years ago today, Yorkshire was covered in a blanket of snow. But farmers across the county - and, indeed the country, which was reliant upon a good Northern harvest - were not complaining, because up to that point, they had enjoyed a good year.

It was in contrast to the previous year - 1916 - when winter tightened its grip on the land a month earlier and did not release it until mid-April, after which much of the land was “too wet to enter upon”. One noteworthy feature of the state of agriculture in Yorkshire was the resorting to growing rye, said to be a hardy plant which could “thrive in thin and uncertain” soils.

Meanwhile, on page seven of that day’s Post was a moving account of the war being waged in France.

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It reads: “The pushes in the mud of Flanders were colourless, sordid affairs, a plodding walk through craters and filth up a dead blind slope against a hidden enemy, and the men who wear the glory of those victories left less like soldiers than machines.

“They were fighting in the world they had always known, in the way that battles were fought before science changed the formula to one of machines and chemistry. They saw our gunners gallantly serving them in the open, they saw the alluring green fields before them, and the mystery of the great wood that towered above them, and the aeroplane blandly ignoring wild point-blank shrapnel - they were full of fine courage and enthusiasm, dash and curiosity. And the Tanks drew them like a magnet. Armoured storm troops rolled slowly and serenely past Graincourt village and Anneux...

“The Germans could see them crawling forward...Oak and ash and undergrowrth cracked under the tread of the Tanks and the hurried new defences of Fontaine were swept aside.”

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