Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Plans to commemorate Passchendaele centenary

From the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org), an announcement of plans to commemorate the centenary of Passchendaele:

They called it Passchendaele: Government unveils plans to mark centenary of The Third Battle of Ypres
4,000 tickets available to attend centenary commemorations

Descendants of those who fought at the Third Battle of Ypres will be invited to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission(CWGC) Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium to mark the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley announced today, 3 January, 2017.

Opening the public ballot for tickets, she revealed the Government’s plans to mark both the centenary of Passchendaele on 31 July 2017 and the four years of war on the Ypres salient.

The commemoration of the Third Battle of Ypres, commonly known as Passchendaele, will start with a traditional Last Post Ceremony at the CWGC Menin Gate in Ypres (also known as Ieper) on the eve of the centenary, 30 July. The ceremony will give thanks to those who have remembered the British and Commonwealth involvement and sacrifices every evening in peacetime since 1928.

It will be followed by a series of live performances, open to thousands in Ypres’ rebuilt Market Square, which tell the story of the Battle. Images and film will also be projected onto the town’s famous Cloth Hall.

On 31 July 2017, the centenary of the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres, the focus will shift to the 12,000 graves and 35,000 names on the Memorial Wall to the Missing at the CWGC Tyne Cot cemetery, which bears witness to the ferocious battle.

CWGC Director General, Victoria Wallace commented:

“The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is honoured that two of our most visited sites in Ypres will be hosting the UK Government events, marking the final resting place and formal place of commemoration of so many thousands of British and Commonwealth servicemen who died on the Ypres salient during four years of fighting. We hope those attending and watching will take the time to see more of our cemeteries in Flanders Fields after the events are over.”

Descendants wanting to honour their relatives where they fought and died can:
  • Attend the ceremony at Market Square Ypres on 30 July 2017 for an evening of live performance and music with image and film projected onto the Cloth Hall, rebuilt from rubble.
  • Apply for tickets to the commemoration at CWGC Tyne Cot on 31 July 2017.
  • Enter a sub-ballot for a very limited number of places at the CWGC Menin Gate.

The public ballot is for tickets to attend the commemorative event at CWGC Tyne Cot Cemetery on 31 July 2017. The 4,000 tickets will be allocated in pairs, free of charge. Descendants can apply online at www.passchendaele100.org before 24 February 2017.

Those wishing to be at Market Square on Sunday 30 July 2017 can also register their interest in attending in order to receive regular updates and further information about attending the events.

While the Somme holds a powerful place in the national psyche today, during the First World War, Passchendaele and Ypres were household names. The battlefield is closely associated with terrible fighting conditions, and was the first time poison gas was used in battle on the Western Front. The story of Joey the War Horse, was set in this part of the Western Front. And Harry Patch, who became known as the Last Tommy, was conscripted and fought at Passchendaele.

The event will also be shown live on large screens in the Market Square at Ypres and at the Zonnebeke Chateau Grounds, so that those not able to secure a ticket will still be able to attend the public event on 30th July, and watch the Tyne Cot event on 31 July.

The Centenary of Passchendaele, the Third Battle of Ypres is a key part of the UK Government’s four-year programme to commemorate the First World W
ar. The Government will be working closely with its delivery partner, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as well as local partners in Belgium, such as the city of Ypres, the community of Zonnebeke, Passendale and the Westtoer Province of West-Flanders to commemorate the centenary of the First World War in the Flanders Fields region.

Fighting commenced on the Ypres Salient between British and German forces in 1914, and continued throughout the war. The Battle was the first major British offensive on the Ypres Salient. The ferocity and horror of the battle is encapsulated in Siegfried Sassoon’s famous line: “I died in hell - They called it Passchendaele”.

Belgian General Commissioner for World War One Commemoration, Paul Breyne said:

"The Belgian Government is deeply committed in bringing support for the commemoration of this historical event of exceptional magnitude. It is for the Belgian people and the Belgian Government of utmost importance to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and peace. We are looking forward to welcoming those British citizens and visitors from other nations who will travel to Belgium to pay tribute to those who fought with dedication and bravery, a hundred years ago, in this devastating battle.”

(With thanks to the CWGC)


For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Beginner's Guide to British and Irish Genealogy, A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html.

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