On the 31st October 1914 in Gheluvelt (near Ypres), Belgium the 2nd Worcestershire Regiment were engaged in the First Battle of Ypres. The British forces, who were outnumbered and outgunned, were attempting to stop a much larger and better armed German army who were determined to break the British lines and get to the channel ports.
At around midday the Germans finally broke through the British lines at Gheluvelt and the only reserves available were the 2nd Worcestershire Regiment in a nearby wood. The 364 men lead by Major Hankey mounted a bayonet charge under heavy machine gun and artillery fire and managed to drive over 1,000 German troops from the grounds of Gheluvelt chateau and surrounding areas. Field Marshal Sir John French described the day as the day "the 2nd Worcesters Saved the British Empire". On the German side things weren't so good. They had sustained such heavy losses that they named the day "the slaughter of the innocents".
After the war it was decided to remember what an important part the 2nd Worcestershire Regiment had played and in 1922 Gheluvelt Park was opened by Field Marshal John French, the Earl of Ypres. The park was built with a grand memorial arch and a distinctive bandstand situated in the middle of a small lake.
Now fast forward to 2010 and the unveiling of what you see here, a war memorial to remember the fallen of all wars. But this memorial has more meaning than at first sight, its 27 steel panels symbolising the number of casualties during the First World War. Each panel might seem to be of a random height, but they each represent the number of causalities during a two month period from 1914 to 1918 with each 1cm represents 500 casualties.
As you stand there looking at the steel panels the figures of war are all around, it’s a sobering thought as you stand there next to the tallest panel knowing that it’s height represents over 300,000 causalities.
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