WW1: Memorial march for lost Royal Welsh Fusiliers in Belgium

  • Published
Media caption,

A memorial was unveiled near the village of Zandvoorde

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers have marched through a Belgian village to honour the hundreds from their regiment who died in one of World War One's bloodiest battles.

The 1st Battalion was annihilated in 20 ferocious days of fighting in October 1914.

A total of 1,264 men were killed in the countryside around Ypres and families are in Belgium to mark the centenary.

A memorial was unveiled near the village of Zandvoorde.

More than 200 people from Wales attended the nightly memorial service at the Menin Gate in Ypres on Saturday as part of a weekend of commemoration.

One hundred years on and WW1 commemoration ceremonies in Belgium still draw a large crowd.

Col Henry Cadogan helped unveil the new memorial to the lost battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

His grandfather commanded troops against terrible odds.

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The memorial was unveiled near the village of Zandvoorde
Image source, Cadogan
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Henry Cadogan also became a colonel and will join family and other descendants in Belgium on Sunday
Image source, Cadogan
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Lt Col Henry Cadogan was shot and killed on 30 October, 1914

Col Henry Cadogan said: "They had no wire, no proper entrenching tools.

"In eleven days the battalion was reduced from 35 officers and 1,450 men to just the quartermaster and 85 men who reported for duty on 31 October."

Just a few miles away in Gheluvelt another service also took place to remember the South Wales Borderers killed on the 31 October 1914.

Image caption,
The memorial service to the South Wales Borderers who suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Gheluvelt on 31 October 1914

Fifty members from a branch of the Royal Regiment of Wales visited Passchendaele museum.

They handed over a memorial book containing the names of 122 men from Blackwood, south Wales who were killed.

Image caption,
Dennis Pitman and John Coleman from the Royal Regiment of Wales present Passchendaele Museum with a memorial book containing the names of 122 men from Blackwood who died at the battle of Gheluvelt

The price paid during these early battles was high indeed.

The British Expeditionary Force sent to the Western Front in 1914 was virtually extinguished - outnumbered and outflanked by the German army.

Brig Philip Napier, of The Royal Welsh, said: "Policing the colonies and the empire had not prepared them that well for this.

"It came as quite a shock, and was the first time modern warfare as we know it today had been conducted on the battlefields of Europe."

Many of the Welsh regiments who died in 1914 have no known grave, but their names are etched on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.

Image caption,
The dedication of the memorial near the village of Zandvoorde
Image caption,
One hundred years on, commemoration events in Belgium still draw big crowds
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Around 200 family members and veterans from Wales have made the trip to Belgium to take part in a series of services

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