100 years on from Passchendaele: Wilmslow honours the fallen

Wilmslow hosted a special ceremony of commemoration on Monday, 31st July, to mark the centenary of the start of the Third Battle of Ypres – more widely known as Passchendaele.

Around 200 people including descendants of the fallen, the Royal British Legion, other veterans groups, members of the public and local dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire and Bishop of Stockport, gathered for a poignant ceremony and wreath laying at Wilmslow Memorial Gardens.

Part of the service took place in a heavy downpour, not unlike the torrential rain the troops had to contend with during the battle, which saw 325,000 allied soldiers and 260,000 German troops killed or wounded.

The Mayor of Cheshire East Councillor Arthur Moran led the tributes to the fallen on behalf of Cheshire East Council. The Cheshire Regiment alone lost 885 men during the battle, with 124 deaths on the first day. Of the 885, the youngest was 17 and the oldest 44.

Councillor Moran said: "As the years pass by, it becomes more and more important that we do not forget those dreadful events and the appalling loss of life.

"I am pleased that so many people took the trouble to attend this ceremony in Wilmslow and I wish to extend my thanks to all those who came along."

The Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire spoke about the unimaginable conditions these soldiers faced and Tatton MP Esther McVey read out the names of the 30 casualties who came from Wilmslow.

Khumi Burton, on behalf of the Royal British Legion Wilmslow, said "It is so incredible that 100 years ago, 30 men from this area - age ranging from 19 to 37 - volunteered to fight. They all came from a variety of backgrounds, including a bleach worker, cattleman, draper's assistant, general labourer, errand boy and architect."

Ian Mac, Artistic Director of the Jude Theatre Company, performed a short monologue about life in the trenches, wearing a uniform of the day, and singer Anna Meadmore performed the famous 1914 Ivor Novello song 'Keep the Home Fires Burning', wearing a dress from the era.

Afterwards there was a short service of remembrance led by Revd Libby Lane, the Bishop of Stockport, and the last post was played by the Bugler of the Riders of the British Legion.

Lord Grey of Codnor, President of the Royal British Legion IN Cheshire, said "This terrible First World War decimated whole communities and the really important lesson to learn from these commemorations, is that we all remember the huge sacrifices made, in appalling conditions almost impossible for us to imagine, to allow us to live the way we do today.

"As President of the Royal British Legion in Cheshire, I am determined this vital message is taken in and understood by today's generation. Aggression in any form is never the way to settle disputes between nations or individuals for that matter."

MP Esther McVey said "It was a truly moving ceremony where the community came together to pay their respect for all those who fell at Passchendaele. As part of the service I was honoured to read out the names of all the young soldiers from the Wilmslow area who died in battle."

First World War, Memorial Garden, Passchendaele, The Royal British Legion


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Terry Roeves
Wednesday 2nd August 2017 at 7:23 pm
Heavy rain briefly on Monday reminded us of the horrors of the trenches.
My grandfather also survived a gas attack but with lung damage and was discharged from the Royal Field Artillery. His brother who served in the Seaforth Highlanders was killed.
My Father had to leave school at 14yrs to support the family.
He later joined the Royal Engineers serving in Turkey, being discharged suffering from malaria.
Never a word was spoken about any of it.
The impact of WW1 is all the more significant to my family, because the previous generation had emigrated here from Germany. Almost a civil war for some?
A sustained understanding of what world wars have done to us all is as important as ever. We must not forget, nor should our global leaders.
Laurie Atterbury
Wednesday 2nd August 2017 at 7:35 pm
Will never forget what they suffered and sacrificed for our taken for granted freedom of today. Like Terry, I thought of them especially as it rained heavy at times in the service on Monday.
Bob Bracegirdle
Wednesday 2nd August 2017 at 8:08 pm
My grandfather was gassed and suffered malaria. Never a word about the war.

What an absolute waste of life on both sides for what?
Dave Cash
Friday 4th August 2017 at 1:57 am
The rain shower reminded us of campaign conditions 100 years ago but no one died in the mud this week. A sensitive, local commemoration.
Perhaps Wilmslow RBL, or other groups, can arrange a weekend coach visit to Tine Cot & Menin Gate for 100+ Wilmslow adults & school children, before Nov 2018?