Service marks 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele


A moving service was held this week to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele during World War 1.

The service, at the war memorial outside West Lothian Civic Centre, was led by Reverend Nigel Anderson, Legion Scotland Livingston Branch Chaplain, who said the opening prayer.

Provost Tom Kerr recited memories from a soldier, and Mrs Karen Elliot from Legion Scotland Livingston Branch read Binyon’s Lines.

Closing the service West Lothian Council’s armed forces champion, Councillor John McGinty, read the poem ‘On These Fields of Passchendaele’.

With between 400,000 and 500,000 casualties, the battle of Passchendaele is thought to be one of the deadliest battles of the First World War.

It lasted from July 31 to November 10, 1917.

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The battle itself was an attempt by the Allied forces to capture strategic high ground near Ypres.

The Belgian town of Ypres had been the focus of military action since October 1914, and the surrounding area had seen hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides.

People in West Lothian would have received the first news of the Allied advance from the war columns which were printed by newspapers.

Receiving information from official sources, the major papers gave an overview of campaigns, often focusing on the positive outcomes and downplaying reverses and heavy casualties.

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However, every week in the local papers there were lists of local men who were killed or wounded in action, or posted “missing.”

These intimations, sometimes brief, sometimes with details and a photograph, charted the progress of the war by its impact on local families and the wider community.

Provost Tom Kerr said: “It is vitally important that we mark the 1st World War and remember the great sacrifice which was made.

“Reading the words of James Philip from Westfield, a soldier who took part in the Battle of Passchendaele was incredibly moving.”

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