This artefact is a poignant reminder that, the great loss of life and terrible conditions that soldiers endured on the muddy fields of Passchendaele in October 1917, was not restricted to the allied forces and that the opposing German forces, although better positioned, suffered the senseless waste of life of many of its bright young men just the same.
This German bugle, which clearly shows the bullet hole that pierced its tubes and ended the owner’s life, was souvenired at Passchendaele in October 1917 by 3/180 Sergeant Harry William Keesing MM who served as a stretcher bearer with the New Zealand Medical Corps at Gallipoli and later on the Western Front. Sergeant Keesing found the bugle next to a dead German bugler whom he would later recall feeling sorry for as he was “only a bit of a kid”. After the war the bugle hung for many years in the hallway of the family home in Auckland in memory of the young German bugler.
Sergeant Keesing was awarded the Military Medal (MM) for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty for his service at Passchendaele when he repeatedly took his stretcher bearer squads up to the front lines through seas of mud and under heavy machine gun fire to rescue the wounded men and bring them back to safety.
Picture caption: 2018.173.19 – Battle damaged German bugle from Passchendaele.