Buglers from the Royal Marines sound the Last Post from the Cross of Sacrifice at Tyne Cot Cemetery (Photo courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

Tyne Cot Centenary service remembers Passchendaele loss & sacrifice

Posted on centenarynews.com on 01 August 2017
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The world's largest Commonwealth cemetery was the setting for commemorations on 31 July 2017, honouring all those who fought and died at the Third Battle of Ypres/Passchendaele a century ago.

Descendants were among 4,000 guests attending the ceremony at Tyne Cot, together with King Philippe of Belgium, senior members of the British Royal Family and representatives of the former WW1 combatant nations, including Germany.

The hour-long service was televised live for a wider audience beyond the former battlefields of Flanders.

Leading the tributes, the Prince of Wales spoke at the foot of the Cross of Sacrifice, here placed on a First World War German blockhouse at the suggestion of his great grandfather, King George V, who visited in 1922.

Prince Charles said: "The battle we know today as Passchendaele would last for over 100 days. We remember it not only for the rain that fell, the mud that weighed down the living and swallowed the dead, but also for the courage and bravery of the men who fought here."

The dignitaries arriving for the service, led by the Prince of Wales, King Philippe of the Belgians, the Duke of Cambridge, Queen Mathilde, the Duchess of Cambridge, CWGC Vice Chairman Sir Tim Laurence, and British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

German tribute

Several German soldiers are buried at Tyne Cot, their graves tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission with the same devotion and respect as those of almost 12,000 British and Allied soldiers who lie in the cemetery.

Queen Mathilde of Belgium and the Duchess of Cambridge joined Sigmar Gabriel, German Minister for Foreign Affairs, in laying wreaths on their graves.

In a statement ahead of Monday's ceremony, Mr Gabriel said: "Like Verdun, the Third Battle of Ypres is a symbol of the futile brutality of war. When we remember the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who were slain in the trenches of Flanders over the course of just a few months, our joint message is 'never again'.

"Never again may diplomacy fail the way it did in 1914; never again may there be war in the heart of Europe; never again may our continent’s young people be slaughtered."

The first Commonwealth soldiers were buried at Tyne Cot during the closing weeks of the Allied offensive to take the Passchendaele ridge in autumn 1917.

After the Great War, the cemetery was considerably enlarged. In addition to almost 12,000 burials, 35,000  British and Commonwealth servicemen whose graves are not known are commemorated on the walls of the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Victoria Wallace, Director General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, commented: "Tyne Cot, the largest of our military cemeteries, sits right on the battlefield, and is a poignant reminder of the terrible scale of loss and sacrifice. In our own centenary year, the CWGC is proud and privileged to have the honour of caring for the final resting places of so many men and women."

Wales remembers in Flanders - July 31

Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, lays a wreath at the grave of war poet Hedd Wynn - watched by Prince Charles, CWGC Vice Chairman Sir Tim Laurence (second from left) and Geert Bourgeois (first left), Minister-President of Flanders (Photo courtesy of CWGC) 

A Welsh National Service of Remembrance was held at Langemark in memory of the 3,000 soldiers from Wales who were killed or wounded at the Third Battle of Ypres/Passchendaele. Tributes were also paid at Artillery Wood CWGC Cemetery to the Welsh war poet Hedd Wynn and his Irish counterpart, Francis Ledwidge, both of whom fell on the first day of the 1917 offensive. 

Passchendaele Memorial Park

Prince Charles opened the UK's Poppy Garden at the Passchendaele Memorial Park - the latest in a series of centenary installations at the Zonnebeke site. 

Coming up:

Passchendaele commemorations will continue through the July-November Centenary period, with events honouring Australian, Canadian, Scottish, South African and New Zealand forces. Cultural events are also planned in Flanders - for details, see Passchendaele 2017.

More about the Third Battle of Ypres/Passchendaele can be found here in Centenary News.

Sources: Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC); German Ministry for Foreign Affairs; Welsh Government

All Images © courtesy of CWGC

Posted by: CN Editorial Team