Remembering men lost in Passchendaele battle

Vicar of St Annes Fr David Lyon laying a wreath at the Menin Gate
Vicar of St Annes Fr David Lyon laying a wreath at the Menin Gate

One of the darkest days in the history of St Annes will be recalled on Monday with the latest quarter peal of bells at the town’s Parish Church in honour of the First World War dead.

On July 31, 1917, the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele, 10 local men – Henry Cross, Harry Hawkard, Samuel Hodgson, Fred Howarth, Harry Howarth, Albert Hoyle, James Grove, Samuel Ireland, Alexander Robinson and Bernard Williams – were killed.

Another, Richard Cahill, who had been gassed in an earlier battle, died at home the same day.

The Passchendaele 10 are remembered in the Memorial Chapel at the Parish Church as well as on the memorial in Ashton Gardens.

Having no known graves, the men are also remembered on the Menin Gate, close to the Passchendaele battlefield in Ypres, Belgium.

The Battle of Passchendaele, which ran for four months from July 31, 1917 and cost more than 400,000 lives, and on Monday’s centenary of its start, a quarter peal will be rung on the Parish Church bells, starting at 10am.

It will be followed by a brief Act of Remembrance outside the Memorial Chapel at 11am.

A quarter peal comprises approximately 45 minutes of continuous ringing and more than 1,200 changes of bell sequence, requiring a team of at least six expert bellringers.

So far, 28 have been rung at the Parish Church, 100 years on to the day from men from the town dying during the First World War.

Fr David Lyon, the vicar of St Annes, who laid a wreath at the Menin Gate during a visit in 2014, said: “It is right that we honour the people lost in the Great War in this way. It is a poignant reminder of how terrible that conflict - which is still difficult for us to relate to all these years on.”

More than 440,000 men died at the Battle of Passchendaele, for control of the ridges south and east of Ypres.

Other Fylde men who lost their lives there included Edward Ibbison and Henry Robinson Wilson from Warton, the latter who at just 19, was the youngest of the nine men from the village lost during the Great War