War’s re­mem­brance

Roy­als mark 100 years since the start of hor­rific World War I bat­tle

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

YPRES, Bel­gium — Bri­tain’s Prince Wil­liam and his wife, Kate, on Sun­day joined Bel­gian roy­als and rel­a­tives of sol­diers who fought in the Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele to mark 100 years since the of­fen­sive that be­came a sym­bol of war’s sense­less­ness be­gan.

More than half a mil­lion Al­lied and Ger­man troops were killed or wounded in the World War I bat­tle in west­ern Bel­gium, also known as the Third Bat­tle of Ypres.

The Al­lied cam­paign, fought by Bri­tish and Com­mon­wealth forces from July to Novem­ber 1917 in swampy, rain-pum­meled bat­tle­fields that turned to liq­uid mud, ended up barely mov­ing the front line against the Ger­mans.

Wil­liam spoke at the Menin Gate Memo­rial in Ypres, a mon­u­ment etched with the names of tens of thou­sands of sol­diers killed in the months-long bat­tle whose re­mains were never re­cov­ered or did not re­ceive proper buri­als.

“To­day, the Menin Gate records al­most 54,000 names of the men who did not re­turn home, the miss­ing with no known grave,” he said. “Mem­bers of our fam­i­lies, our reg­i­ments, our na­tions, all sac­ri­ficed ev­ery­thing for the lives we live to­day.”

The com­mem­o­ra­tion be­gan with a dawn can­non salute and ended with The Last Post, the mourn­ful Bri­tish Army bu­gle call that sounds at mil­i­tary fu­ner­als and cer­e­monies. The tune has been played at the Menin Gate al­most every evening since 1928.

Wil­liam was joined at the cer­e­mony by Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Bel­gium, and some 200 de­scen­dants of those who fought at Pass­chen­daele.

Welsh­man Pe­ter CarterJones says the cer­e­mony, and other com­mem­o­ra­tions held over the week­end, were “very mov­ing”.

He said “all this has been done for those thou­sands of young men who died here so we can live in free­dom. That is what it is about.”

Mem­bers of our fam­i­lies, our reg­i­ments, our na­tions, all sac­ri­ficed ev­ery­thing for the lives we live to­day.” Prince Wil­liam, dur­ing the cer­e­mony at the Menin Gate Memo­rial in Ypres

JOHN THYS / AFP

Bri­tain’s Duchess of Cam­bridge and Prince Wil­liam walk along­side King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Bel­gium dur­ing the cer­e­mony in Ypres, West­ern Flan­ders, on Sun­day.

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