Before the Great War began the wood may have had this exact shape – but probably a different mix of tree species. It was fought over in October 1914 by, amongst other regiments, the 2nd Worcesters. When they returned in September 1917 –
…the aspect of the scene at dawn was very different from what it had been three years before. The open fields had been beaten into a desolate expanse of boggy shell-holes. Such trees as still stood had been stripped and broken. On the skyline to the left, a mere stubble of bare tree trunks marked the site of Polygon Wood.
The Battle for the Wood “raged” throughout the day of the 26th and in the hours of dark the area was subject to an intense bombardment.
…as dawn broke at 5am the artillery of both sides suddenly ceased their fire. For some minutes all remained under cover, then, as the guns did not recommence, men
ventured cautiously from their defenses and gazed around in wonder. The intense bombardment of two days and nights had beaten the whole area into a different
appearance. Such landmarks as had existed beforehand had disappeared. The surface of the ground from Stirling Castle to Gheluvelt had been churned up afresh, the whole
landscape was even more desolate and repulsive than before.
The battle for Polygon Wood was effectively over. “Intermittent sniping alone
continued throughout the day of Thursday the 27th of September.”
Perhaps it was a sniper’s bullet that ended the life of Private Harold CRIMLISK of Filey, fighting with the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.
Harold is buried at Cement House Cemetery, about 12 kilometers distant from where he fell. There is a small cemetery at Polygon Wood and this source offers a gallery of 14 photographs showing the difference a hundred years make.