Passchendaele 100: Wales and Belgium remember battle

Stretcher bearers at Passchendaele 100 years ago Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Stretcher bearers at Passchendaele 100 years ago

Commemorations to mark the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele are getting under way in Wales and Belgium.

On the first day of the battle, 4,000 Welsh soldiers where either killed or injured.

The Duke of Cambridge laid a wreath at the Menin Gate at Ypres on Sunday, alongside the band of the Welsh Guards.

In Wales, a service will be held to remember the first Welsh Guard to win a Victoria Cross, on the battle's first day.

Sgt Robert Bye, from Penrhiwceiber in Rhondda Cynon Taff, led single-handed assaults on machine gun positions.

His actions will be the focus of a ceremony at Ynysangharad Memorial Park in Pontypridd - the town where he was honoured in 2015.

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Media captionEvents to mark the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele get under way in Wales and Belgium.
Image copyright IWM
Image caption Sgt Robert Bye - the first - and one of only two Welsh Guards to win a VC

Colonel T C S Bonas, Regimental Adjutant Welsh Guards, said: “Sgt Robert Bye remains as much an inspiration today as he has always been throughout the years to generations of Welsh Guardsmen.

“We have all learnt about him, we all look up to him and we all honour his memory.

“His name and deeds are forever etched in our history and as Welsh Guardsmen, we seek to live up to his selfless act of bravery, strength of character and devotion to duty."

Sgt Bye survived the battle and returned to Wales after the war.

His memory will also be marked on Sunday at Artillery Wood, the cemetery where many of the Welsh fallen from the 38th Division are buried - including the Welsh poet Hedd Wyn.

A plaque to the poet - whose real name is Ellis Humphrey Evans, from Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd, will also be unveiled on Sunday at the Welsh Memorial for Passchendaele near Langemark.

On Monday, further events will be held across the region to commemorate Passchendaele - also known as the Third Battle of Ypres.

Image copyright Issued by RCT council
Image caption Welsh Guardsman Sgt Robert Bye was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George V on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace on 5 September 1917

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