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Monday, 24 July 2017

Cheshire East to salute the fallen of First World War’s Passchendaele

Cheshire East Council is to hold a ceremony of commemoration to mark the centenary of the start of the Third Battle of Ypres – more widely known as Passchendaele.

The Royal British Legion, other veterans groups, members of the public and dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire and Bishop of Stockport, will gather for a poignant ceremony and wreath laying at Wilmslow War Memorial, on Mill Street, at 2pm on Monday July 31.

Mayor of Cheshire East Councillor Arthur Moran will lead the tributes to the fallen on behalf of Cheshire East Council.

The First World War battle in Flanders was notorious for its terrible casualties and appallingly-lethal mud. Servicemen from across Cheshire were among the combatants and casualties.

The Cheshire Regiment alone lost 885 men in total during the battle, with 124 deaths on the first day. Of the 885, the youngest was 17 and the oldest 44.

The Third Battle of Ypres, which began on July 31, 1917, was supposed to see the Allies break-out to the Belgian coast to destroy German U-boat bases.

More than 4.5 million shells were fired in the two-week bombardment before the launch of the assault. But the attack soon floundered amid record heavy rains and unprecedented waterlogged mud that drowned horses, men and machines alike.

Passchendaele was the name of the totally destroyed village the Allies captured before the attack was called to an end on November 6, 1917.

The battle was one of the bloodiest of the war. In total, more than 325,000 Allied soldiers and more than 260,000 German soldiers were killed or wounded.

Councillor Rachel Bailey, Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “There were many families in Cheshire who suffered the loss of a loved one during this appallingly difficult and brutal battle. So it is only right that now, 100 years on, we remember them and pay tribute to their great sacrifice.

“It is tremendously important that today’s generation, thankfully largely untouched by conflict, continues to remember and honour the sacrifice made during the First World War. We will remember them.”

The ceremony will be attended by Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs, the Bishop of Stockport the Rt Rev Libby Lane and representatives of the Royal British Legion, Cheshire East Council, Wilmslow Town Council and other local community groups.

Ian Mac, actor and artistic director of the Jude Theatre Company, will perform a short monologue about life in the trenches at the ceremony. The singer Anna Meadmore will also perform the famous 1914 Ivor Novello song ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’.

Members of the public are warmly invited to attend.

The commemorative event is part of the council’s ‘Cheshire East Reflects’ four-year programme of remembrance of the sacrifice by the people of Cheshire East during the First World War.

Cheshire East will be marking a number of key anniversaries in the period up to November 11, 2018, when the centenary of the signing of the Armistice will be commemorated.

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