Portsmouth called to join event to mark gruesome First World War battle

The Battle of Pilckem Ridge : A British 18 pounder field gun battery taking up new positions close to a communication trench near Boesinghe, 31 July 1917
The Battle of Pilckem Ridge : A British 18 pounder field gun battery taking up new positions close to a communication trench near Boesinghe, 31 July 1917
Arch Deacon with his petiton against mixed-sex wards

THIS WEEK IN 1996: Proposals to end mixed-sex wards

0
Have your say

RELATIVES of men who fought in one of the First World War’s bloodiest battles are being called to join a commemoration service.

Portsmouth charity Pompey Pals issued the plea ahead of a two-day memorial event marking the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres.

It comes after a national ballot was opened to help relatives honour those who fought – and died – at Passchendaele in 1917.

Bob Beech, who is part of the Pompey Pals, said there could be thousands of families in the area who could benefit from the government-led ballot.

He said: ‘Thousands of men from Portsmouth went to fight in the battle.

‘Lets not forget the guys who died for us over there and get as many people from Portsmouth to the memorial.’

The battle has been named as one of the war’s most horrifying.

Men from both the 14th and 15th Pompey Pals brigade, as well as the men of the Royal Naval Division took part in the fight.

The attack was meant to sweep across Flanders and capture Bruges and Zeebrugge – capturing bases used by German submarines which were threatening Britain’s sea lanes.

Instead the attack bogged down in the Flanders mud, getting no further than the Belgian village which gave the battle its name.

Commonwealth armies advanced just four miles – at a cost of 245,000 dead or wounded and 180,000 casualties on the German side.

Mr Beech said: ‘Passchendaele sums up the horror of the Great War.

‘It was everything that was bad about the war; it was the shell fire, snipers – it was the gas, the whizz bangs the mud and the rain.

‘Guys were drowning in the mud. It was horrific.

‘All the horrors of World War One are summed up by this battle.’

A century on and the beginning of the battle forms one of the centrepieces of the UK’s Great War commemorations.

The two days of events open at 8pm on July 30 at the Menin Gate, where the missing of the Ypres Salient are listed.

Then on July 31, the focus shifts to Tyne Cot cemetery near Passchendaele where 47,000 Commonwealth dead are remembered – 12,000 in graves, 35,000 on a wall to the missing.

A total of 4,000 tickets are available in the ballot and will be issued in pairs.

Relatives must apply online by visiting passchendaele100.org before February 24, 2017.