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Visit honours family’s Great War heroes

Andrew Brown with his grandfather's medals at the commemoration event
Andrew Brown with his grandfather's medals at the commemoration event

A man followed in his military ancestor’s footsteps as he visited Passchendaele to pay tribute to those killed in the First World War battle there.

Andrew Brown, 53, and his wife Louise attended a commemoration event at the Belgian battlefield to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle starting.

Andrew’s grandfather Private Walter Brown and his great uncle Lance Corporal George Brown both fought there.

Farmer Andrew, of TW Brown and Son, at Caldecott, headed to Belgium with his grandfather’s medals after winning tickets in a ballot to attend the commemoration.

He said: “The battle must have been appalling.

“The commemoration was quite a sobering experience and very emotional.

“It was great to be part of the event that will commemorate the sacrifices made during the battle.”

They attended a memorial service and visited Ypres on July 31.

During the trip they visited the Tyne Cot Cemetery which holds 11,965 bodies from the fighting in the area and its memorial names 34,000 British and New Zealand soldiers whose remains are still missing in the Ypres Salient. It is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world.

The bands of the Royal Marines, Welsh Guards and the RAF performed.

The Last Post was played and there was a flypast by the Belgian Air force.

Prince Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium plus Prime Minister Theresa May also attended.

The Third Battle of Ypres at Passchendaele ran between July 31 1917 and November 10 1917. Heavy rain turned the battlefield into a quagmire and many Allied and German soldiers were drowned in the sticky mud.

An estimated 858,614 men died during the three month campaign.

Both L Cpl Brown, of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), and Pte Brown, of the Leicestershire Yeomanry, survived the battle plus the Battle of the Somme.

Pte Brown, 83, died in 1979 but L Cpl Brown, 21, was shot and killed on November 5, 1918.


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