Hertfordshire Regiment's First World War heroes to get first memorial outside UK - with unveiling at site of most famous action exactly 100 years on

PUBLISHED: 08:37 16 January 2017 | UPDATED: 12:44 17 January 2017

Hertfordshire Regiment soldiers during the First World War. Photo: Herts at War

Hertfordshire Regiment soldiers during the First World War. Photo: Herts at War

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The First World War heroes of the Hertfordshire Regiment are set to gain their first memorial outside the UK - with the monument to be unveiled at the site of their most famous action, exactly a century on.

E Company of the Herts Regiment's 1st Battalion leaving Letchworth station for war in October 1914.E Company of the Herts Regiment's 1st Battalion leaving Letchworth station for war in October 1914.

Following negotiations with the Belgian government, military history group Herts at War confirmed on Wednesday that the new Herts Regiment monument would be placed at the site of the 1st Battalion’s attack near St Julien on July 31, 1917 – the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele.

About 620 Herts men and officers attacked, and within two hours all the officers and 75 per cent of the other ranks had been either killed, wounded or captured.

The memorial, set to unveiled exactly 100 years later this July 31, will feature Hertfordshire-made plaques in pride of place – and Dan Hill from Herts at War told the Crow they felt honoured to make such a poignant remembrance of our troops.

“We’re very pleased with what we think is the best place to honour the regiment,” said Dan.

Hertfordshire territorials including Percy Buck at Summer Camp just before the outbreak of war in 1914. Credit:  Colourised by Doug Banks of Colourising History in partnership with Herts at War.Hertfordshire territorials including Percy Buck at Summer Camp just before the outbreak of war in 1914. Credit: Colourised by Doug Banks of Colourising History in partnership with Herts at War.

“There’s a balance of the current situation and where the actual battlefield was, and we’re particularly pleased to have satisfied both. The one thing we can’t ever do is choose where the battle was.

“Now the step forward is to work on the unveiling. We’re putting together an unveiling day with an interactive battlefield walk, to tour the field exactly 100 years to the day on from when it happened – which is very poignant.”

The memorial site is just north of St Julien, and about 100 yards from the Brooding Soldier memorial commemorating Canadian participation in the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915.

The £5,000 monument will be brick-built, bearing plaques in English and Dutch describing the battle and its importance to Hertfordshire as a whole.

Territorials of the Hertfordshire Regiment at lunch. Credit:  Colourised by Doug Banks of Colourising History in partnership with Herts at War.Territorials of the Hertfordshire Regiment at lunch. Credit: Colourised by Doug Banks of Colourising History in partnership with Herts at War.

And Dan said securing the location was the biggest achievement for Herts at War thus far.

“I would say this is the pinnacle of what we’ve achieved in the Herts at War programme so far,” he said.

“We’ve been delighted to share the military story of Hertfordshire with the people here. We’ve worked for the last three years as an organisation, raising money for this – and the people of Hertfordshire have actually paid for this memorial through their support.

“July 31, 1917, is quite simply the most important day in Hertfordshire’s military history, so to be able to commemorate it like this feels tremendous for all of us.

“We’ll have at least 30 descendants of people that fought there on the day, as well – it’ll probably be the most Hertfordshire people there since the day of the battle – and we’ll also have live streaming so people back home can watch the unveiling as it happens, which I think is important.

“To turn the clock back 100 years and take descendants out 100 years on, that’s exactly what we’re all about, and a fitting act of remembrance for these soldiers who gave their lives for us.”

Herts at War is interested to hear from anyone related to the soldiers who fought that day, or anyone who has information or might like to take part on the day of the unveiling.

For more information or to get in touch, see hertsatwar.co.uk.

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