Between the 31 July and 10 November 1917, an estimated 320,000 allied and between 260,000 and 400,000 German casualties, resulted from heavy fighting for a movement of the front line of only 8 kilometres in the West Flanders region of Belgium.
The battle to seize Passchendaele ridge raged for three months, one week and three days. A million shells and the worst rain in 30 years turned the battlefield into a hellish quagmire. Canadian reinforcements finally captured Passchendaele, and it amounted to an advance of only a few hundred yards.
The Passchendaele Salute 2017, under the patronage of Mrs Janice Charette, High Commissioner for Canada, took place on 10 November 2017, at Fort Seclin, near Lille in France. Events included a ceremony of remembrance and 100 Gun Salute to commemorate the centenary of the end of the Battle of Passchendaele.
Master Gun Maker John Slough was the organiser of the Salute. John’s grandfather, Albert Slough, a Sergeant Fitter in the Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action at Hill 60 in October 1917, in the Battle of Passchendaele, making this an important commemoration on both an historical and personal level.
The Gun Salute was fired by 10 guns drawn by horses: 4 x 18pdrs; 3 x 13pdrs; one 4.5 Howitzer, 2 French 75s, and a 13pdr A/A gun on a Pierce Arrow 1917 lorry. The guns crews came from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, and UK.
Coordinated by Commandant Lar Joye (Director of the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust), 18 serving and retired Defence Forces Gunner Officers and 2 spouses travelled to Lille, with the following crewing an 18 pdr Saluting Gun: MHIT’s Secretary Lieutenant-Colonel Eamonn Fogarty (Retd), Commandant Michael Sutcliffe, Lieutenant Mark Rasmussen (Retd), Lieutenant Niall Costello, Captain Tom Butler (Retd) and Commandant Lar Joye.
Arriving in Belgium on 08 November, the party toured the Belgium Bomb Squad facilities at Ypres. Gun training was conducted at Fort Seclin on 09 November. A Drumhead Service was conducted at 1100hrs on 10 November, followed by the 100 Gun Salute. A battlefield tour of the Battle of Passchendaele took place on 11 November, with the party returning home on 12 November.
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