James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants
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Flanders & the Steenbeek

The Steenbeek During July 1917 Morgan's battalion moved up to Flanders, spending three weeks training near Amiens en route. The men were involved in road repairs for the first week of what was then called the Battle of Flanders (it became known as the Battle of Passchendaele or the Third Battle of Ypres), to enable supplies to be moved forward. Then, on 8 August, they went into the trenches near the Steenbeek (left), a canal, little more than a ditch a few metres wide with marshy ground on either side. Here they were heavily shelled. The Steenbeek was overlooked by fortified German positions to the east that were built into the gentle slopes leading up to the Gheluvelt plateau and to Passchendaele beyond. The key to the enemy’s defences in this sector was the almost impregnable Au Bon Gite, 300 yards beyond the east bank on the Langemark Road and the key to Allied success in advancing to capture Langemarck was to establish a foothold on that east bank.

This map shows the Steenbeek and the progress of the battle.

In advance of the main attack the 11th RB held the whole of the front line and on 8 August sent 3 patrols to attempt to cross the canal. Only one succeeded but it established a post and remained there until the night of 10/11 August, when 11th RB was relieved. An attempt to force the Steenbeek by other battalions of 59th Brigade on 11 August failed.

Captain VE Inglefield in his The History of the 20th Division wrote, The joint headquarters of these two battalions [10th and 11th RB] was at this time at Stray Farm, an old farmhouse reinforced with concrete and in full view of the enemy. Here, under the filthiest and most unsanitary conditions, the staffs of both battalions and the signallers were crowded together. The Germans had the range exactly, and hit the place repeatedly.