City honours its courageous sons who ‘saved civilisation’ - The Worcester Observer

City honours its courageous sons who ‘saved civilisation’

Worcester Editorial 6th Nov, 2023   0

A COMMEMORATION of a First World War battle which ‘saved civilisation’ was held in the city’s historic Gheluvelt Park last weekend.

The Worcester branch of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regimental Association welcomed dignitaries to the annual service on Sunday (October 29)

Those gathered remembered the brave actions of the 2nd Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment which took place in Gheluvelt near Ypres in western Belgium on October 31, 1914.

Association standards were on parade as well as a large contingent of veterans and cadets.

Among those to lay a wreath was the Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire Beatrice Grant, High Sheriff of Worcestershire Louise Hewett, chairman of Worcestershire County Council Kyle Daisley, Mayor of Worcester Coun Louis Stephen and the city’s MP Robin Walker.

The Mercian Regiment was represented by Captain Luke Boxall of the 4th Battalion who read out the thirty four names on the Roll of Honour.

Rev Colin Butler conducted the poignant service and following the national anthem, Coun Stephen reminded attendees about the importance of the local Regiment and their bravery in the heat of battle which secured the allied front line and how some of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice were local people.

After 10 days of battle, nearly every unit had been drawn into the battle line and had been broken beyond recovery.

The 2nd Battalion was the last available reserve of the British defence and advanced to a railway embankment to prevent the Germans from moving up Menin Road.

Major Edward Hankey was then given the order to counter-attack and at 2pm with with bayonets fixed, the Battalion moved off in file, alone in moving towards the enemy.

A total of 370 soldiers from B, C and D company swept forward down into a valley into the grounds of Gheluvelt Chateau. Major Hankey sent fighting patrols into the village to drive back snipers and to take some prisoners. While the village wasn’t held permanently, the efforts drove the German army out and away from the Menin Road.

Behind them, General FitzClarence reorganized his troops and made preparation for further resistance.

The actions of the brave soldiers stopped the German army reaching the Channel ports which would have posed a danger to the United Kingdom.

Of the 600 or so men involved – nearly one third were killed or wounded. So heavy were the losses sustained by the Germans they called the day ‘the slaughter of the innocents’.


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