31 July 2017 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Third Battle of Ypres, otherwise known as 'Passchendaele' and Tattenhall remembers three of its young lads who died during this offensive.
Many of you will have been watching the commemorations at the Menin Gate and in Flanders Fields which took place over the weekend.
Many of you will also know the words of the soldier and poet Siegfried Sassoon who wrote of the carnage that raged from 31 July until 10 November 1917 'I died in hell – they called it Passchendaele',
In our own village, three Tattenhall lads died during this offensive, and one on this very day in 1917.
He was Second Lieutenant Samuel Hatten Field who served with the South Lancashire Regiment, 4th Battalion. He died in Flanders Fields on 31 July 1917 aged just 20 and he is remembered on the Menin Gate (Panel 37) in Ypres, Belgium. He was the son of Mr and Mrs H Field of Tattenhall, Cheshire.
Second Lieutenant Samuel Hatten Field died on the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres when an offensive was mounted by the Commonwealth forces in an attempt to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success, but the main assault north-eastward, which began at the end of July, quickly became a dogged struggle against determined opposition and the rapidly deteriorating weather. Since Second Lieutenant Samuel Hatten Field died on 31 July, we can presume that he died at the beginning of this offensive.
The Menin Gate bears the names of over 54,000 British and Commonwealth men for whom there are no known graves. Every evening at 8pm the population of Ypres honour the courage and self-sacrifice of those men who gave their lives in the offensives against their town. At that precise moment, buglers from the local volunteer Fire Brigade step into the roadway under the Menin Gate Memorial Arch and sound the 'Last Post'. This tribute and act of daily remembrance is known as 'The Last Post Ceremony'.
There were at least 2 other Tattenhall Lads who died during this third offensive. Private George Stoneley of the Cheshire Regiment and son of Mary Stoneley who owned the corner shop on the High Street, died on 6 September 1917. Private George Stoneley was only 19 years of age. He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (the second largest Commonwealth War Cemetery in Belgium). The village of Lijssenthoek was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefields.
Similarly, we remember Private Thomas Williams (not listed on the Tattenhall War Memorial).
Private Thomas Williams was a member of the 16th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was the son of Mrs Louisa Edge of White Cottage, Newton Lane, Tattenhall. He died in Flanders Fields on 2 August 1917 and he is remembered on the Menin Gate (Panel 22) in Ypres, Belgium. He was 28 years old. In January 1916, Kitchener's Volunteer Army was replaced by a conscripted army. By August 1917, the area in which Private Thomas Williams served was also involved in the Third Battle of Ypres. It is likely, therefore, that he died in this offensive which had started just 3 days earlier. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Menin Gate.
Work continues on researching the known casualties from our village – CLICK HERE to visit our Local History Website.