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Gunfire echoes over Flanders fields to mark centenary; PASSCHENDAELE CENTENARY CEREMONY.

THE sound of gunfire echoed across the fields of Flanders yesterday morning during an emotional dawn service to mark the centenary of one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War.

The North Wales Rugby Choir and Gwynedd opera singer Rhys Meirion were among those who took part in the ceremony, which was held exactly 100 years after the beginning of the Third Battle of Ypres, known as Passchendaele, in the early hours of July 31, 1917.

The battle's primary objective was to dislodge German forces from the high ground around the city of Ypres (now Ieper) and then advance to Belgian coastal ports from where German U-boats threatened Allied shipping.

An estimated 500,000 men were killed or wounded in the battle, including war poet Hedd Wyn from Trawsfynydd.

Allied generals ordered heavy shelling of the German lines to begin at dawn, and this was re-enacted at the Welsh Memorial Park at Hagebos near Langemark yesterday morning.

At 5.50am, five rounds were fired - one for every 100,000 casualties of the battle, which lasted for three months.

The gun - an authentic Krupp Great War gun - was manned by Belgian living history group De Patrouilleurs.

As smoke from the gun swirled around the red dragon monument, Mr Meirion and Emma Brown sang poignant songs.

The North Wales Rugby Choir also took part and there were readings from war diaries and poems.

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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 1, 2017
Words:233
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