Wales Flanders memorial: Carwyn Jones announces £25,000 grant
A memorial in Belgium to the Welsh soldiers who fought and died in World War I is to receive £25,000 towards its costs.
The Welsh Memorial in Flanders Campaign is planning to build a cromlech, or flagstone monument, in Langemark.
The aim is for it to be ready in time to mark the centenary of the war's outbreak in 2014.
First Minister Carwyn Jones announced the Welsh government funding before attending the Menin Gate ceremony.
He urged people to donate to the campaigners' appeal for a further £60,000 to add a large metal Welsh red dragon to the top of the memorial.Partnership
End Quote Carwyn Jones AM First Minister
This memorial honours not just the Welsh men who fell in battle in Flanders during the conflict, but all Welsh men and women who served during the war”
The campaign has strong support from people in Flanders with the municipal authority donating a piece of land for the memorial to be built on.
The West Flanders provincial authority has agreed to create a garden of remembrance there.
Mr Jones visited the site and symbolically dug the first sod of earth to allow the construction of memorial, made from Pennant bluestone mined near Pontypridd, to begin.Battle of Passchendaele
"The public appeal to build this memorial is a partnership between the people of Wales and Flanders," said the first minister.
"They are people who felt moved by the sacrifice of Welsh service personnel during the First World War and wanted to make sure that they were remembered.
"This memorial honours not just the Welsh men who fell in battle in Flanders during the conflict, but all Welsh men and women who served during the war."
Mr Jones's visit marks the start of the Wales Remembers 1914-1918 programme of commemoration of the centenary of World War I.
Campaigners have so far raised £30,000 towards the cost of the memorial.
It will be sited just metres from the spot where Welsh poet Hedd Wyn died on the 31 July 1917, the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele.
He was killed six weeks before the National Eisteddfod in 1917, at which he was awarded the Black Chair for his poem Yr Arwr (The Hero).
Mr Jones also visited the poet's grave and laid a wreath.
He will also attend the nightly remembrance ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.
The memorial commemorates more than 54,000 men from Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the UK who died fighting in the area and who have no known grave.