I really wanted to do something to commemorate 100 years since my great grandfather died at Passchendaele.
I have been researching my family tree for 16 years now and it was my great uncle Harry who helped me to get started. He was a mine of information. He told me what he knew about my great grandfather and great great uncle who both fought in the First World War. He had a collection of items belonging to my great grandfather that he had treasured all his life, and when he died, aged 93, I was lucky enough to inherit them.
It was these things that inspired me to want to find out more. Richard William Pitman was born on the 16th April 1892 at Wentworth Terrace, Nottingham. He was one of twelve children born to Henry Pitman
and Florence Rice. He married Lizzie McLean and they had two children Henry and Gladys. He enlisted in Nottingham and joined the 7th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.
I knew little more than that he was killed on 12th October 1917 and was remembered on the memorial wall at Tyne Cot cemetery. In 2014 I visited Belgium to try to find out more and our guide for the battlefield tour was
of the opinion that he was killed at The Battle of Poelcappelle. The Battle of Poelcappelle was fought in Flanders on 9 October 1917 by the British and German armies, during the First World War and marked the end of the string of highly successful British attacks during the Third Battle of Ypres. The ground along the main ridges had been severely damaged by shelling and rapidly deteriorated in the rains, turning some areas into a swamp.
These conditions had larger implications for the British, who needed to move large amounts of artillery and ammunition to support the next attack. The battle was a defensive success for the German army, although costly to both sides. The weather and ground conditions put severe strain on all the infantry involved and led to many wounded being stranded on the battlefield.
Remembering my Great Grandad on the 100th anniversary of Passchendaele is a fitting commemoration to a brave man who left behind a wife and two children, one of whom was my Nan.
This banner will be shared with all my family both at home and in Canada.
I am proud to have been able to create this legacy in his memory.
– This story was researched and written by Yvonne Bromwich
Images L-R –
1. Richard William Pitman (known as Will)
2. Yonne Bromwich
3. Will standing with his brother, Henry John Thomas Pitman.