Passchendaele centenary: Hertfordshire Regiment memorial dedicated on Third Battle of Ypres battlefield near St Julien, exactly 100 years on
- Credit: Archant
A memorial honouring the heroes of the Hertfordshire Regiment was dedicated in Belgium yesterday at the site of their defining moment, exactly 100 years on.
The monument, near the village of St Julien, marks where the Hertfordshire Regiment was decimated on the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as 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 stone monument is the regiment’s first memorial outside the UK, and has been built on the initiative of military history group Herts at War following negotiations with the Belgian government.
Marking the point of the Herts troops’ furthest advance on that day 100 years ago, it was unveiled at 11am yesterday morning by the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, the Countess of Verulam.
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Those present included Herts at War chairman Jon Grant, organiser Dan Hill and minister Gary Hanson, who said prayers.
Dan has described securing this memorial location as the pinnacle of the Herts at War programme thus far, and July 31, 1917, as one of the central dates in Hertfordshire’s military history.
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He told this paper today: “We are incredibly proud to have been able remember the men of the Hertfordshire Regiment a century on from their most important day in the First World War.
“The fact this the funds for this memorial have been raised by the people of Hertfordshire stands testament to the fact that the ‘Herts Guards’ will never be forgotten.”
The brick monument includes Hertfordshire-made plaques in English and Dutch that describe the attack of the Hertfordshire Regiment a century ago.
Guests of honour at the dedication service included North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald, who said: “It is fitting that this memorial should be at the very spot where so many young Hertfordshire men lost their lives.
“Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
The unveiling service was followed by a poignant battlefield walk, with members of the group attending last night’s Last Post ceremony at Ypres’ Menin Gate to lay a wreath.
The Hertfordshire Regiment monument is just north of St Julien, and about 100 yards from the Brooding Soldier memorial commemorating Canadian participation in the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915.
To find out more, see hertsatwar.co.uk.