Battle anniversary brings back memories for Old Comrades group

The immaculately tended graves at Tyne Cot Cemetery.
The immaculately tended graves at Tyne Cot Cemetery.

A ceremony in Belgium today (Monday) to mark the start of one of the bloodiest battles of World War One has brought back memories for a local Old Comrades group.

Around 40 members of The Royal Irish Fusiliers Old Comrades Association, Portadown, visited the Tyne Cot Cemetery last year, where many victims of the Battle of Passchendaele are buried or commemorated.

Tyne Cot is the biggest military cemetery in Europe.

Tyne Cot is the biggest military cemetery in Europe.

They were accompanied by Mrs Theffania Everett, granddaughter of General Sir Oliver Nugent, who commanded the 36th (Ulster) division on July 1, 1916.

There, she found the name of her uncle, Second Lieutenant TSV Stoney of the Irish Guards, who died in the Battle of Passchendaele on October 9, 1917.

At today’s ceremony at Tyne Cot, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prime Minister Theresa May were among those who paid tribute to all those who died in the conflict.

Half a million Allied and German soldiers were killed, wounded or went missing in the 100 days that the battle lasted.

The conflict - officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres - was fought from July 31, 1917 until November that year.

Colonel Arthur Reid from the Portadown group, who was one of those on the trip, described the atmosphere at the cemetery as “very peaceful”.

This is in marked contrast to the horrific scenes in 1917 where many soldiers drowned in the thick mud.

Col Reid pointed out that there are a total of 11,961 soldiers buried at Tyne Cot as well as 34,887 names inscribed on the walls of Tyne Cot Memorial of those who have no known graves.