Service to salute heroes of key First World War battle - The Worcester Observer

Service to salute heroes of key First World War battle

Worcester Editorial 28th Oct, 2023   0

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

The Worcester branch of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regimental Association will welcome dignitaries to the annual service on Sunday (October 29) from 11.30am.

Those gathered will remember 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 will be on parade as well as a large contingent of veterans and cadets.

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’.

Gheluvelt Park was created as a memorial to all who gave their lives in the Worcestershire Regiment with the foundation stone laid in January 1919 by Field Marshal Sir William Robertson.

The houses and bungalows within the park, built to provide homes for retired and disabled servicemen, were officially opened in July 1920 with the park opened in June 1922 by Field Marshal John French, the then Earl of Ypres.

The Commemoration Service will be held at the Interpretative Feature and members of the public are welcome to attend. Rev Colin Butler CBE will conduct the ceremony.


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