First World War centenary: Hertfordshire Regiment memorial to be unveiled in Belgium next Monday at site of most famous action exactly 100 years on

Hertfordshire Regiment soldiers during the First World War. Photo: Herts at War

Hertfordshire Regiment soldiers during the First World War. Photo: Herts at War - Credit: Archant

The Hertfordshire Regiment’s First World War heroes are to gain their first memorial outside the UK next week – at the site of their most famous action, exactly a century on.

E Company of the 1st Herts Regiment leaving for war Oct 1914 at Letchworth Station

E Company of the 1st Herts Regiment leaving for war Oct 1914 at Letchworth Station - Credit: Archant

Military history group Herts at War will unveil the Herts Regiment memorial near the Belgian village of St Julien on Monday, July 31 – the centenary of the 1st Battalion’s attack there on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele.

About 620 Herts men and officers attacked, and within two hours all the officers and 75 per cent of the other ranks had been either killed, wounded or captured.

The memorial dedication follows negotiations with the Belgian government, with Herts at War confirming the new monument bearing Hertfordshire-made plaques in January this year.

Speaking to the Comet at that time, Dan Hill from Herts at War said the group felt honoured to make such a poignant remembrance of our troops.

Hertfordshire territorials including Percy Buck at Summer Camp just before the outbreak of war in 19

Hertfordshire territorials including Percy Buck at Summer Camp just before the outbreak of war in 1914. Credit: Colourised by Doug Banks of Colourising History in partnership with Herts at War. - Credit: Archant


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He said: “We’re very pleased with what we think is the best place to honour the regiment. There’s a balance of the current situation and where the actual battlefield was, and we’re particularly pleased to have satisfied both.

“To tour the field exactly 100 years to the day on from when it happened is very poignant.”

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The event will comprise four elements – first a tank unveiling at Pond Farm, then the memorial inauguration service at 11am, and finally a battlefield walk followed by refreshments.

Members of the group will then attend the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres to lay a wreath.

Territorials of the Hertfordshire Regiment, which suffered its great losses at St Julien on July 31,

Territorials of the Hertfordshire Regiment, which suffered its great losses at St Julien on July 31, 1917. Picture: Colourised by Doug Banks of Colourising History in partnership with Herts at War. - Credit: Archant

Herts at War have extended an open invitation to those attending the memorial unveiling to come to Pond Farm beforehand to see the unveiling and first operation of a new British Mk IV tank, of the kind used on July 31, 1917.

The tank, owned and operated by military historian Stijn Butaye, will run for the first time across the land around St Julien.

Guests are asked to come to the memorial service from 10.30am for a 10.50am welcome from Herts at War chairman Jon Grant, ahead of the official unveiling at 11am.

The Last Post will then be played by a representative of Ypres’ fire brigade, which nightly plays the Last Post at the Menin Gate.

After the unveiling, attendees will be led in four groups on a battlefield walk around St Julien, hearing the story of the Hertfordshire Regiment’s attack of 100 years ago in detail over six locations.

If you want to join the battlefield walk you must let the group know ahead of time – email jontywild@hertsatwar.co.uk.

To find out more see hertsatwar.co.uk, or find the group on Facebook.

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