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Today marks the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, which took part from 31 July to 10 November 1917, on the outskirts of Ypres. Allied troops faced stiff resistance from the German 4th Army, incredibly wet weather turning the area into a quagmire, and the onset of winter, made the battle incredibly difficult and it has remained controversial to this day. 

The combination of these factors led to the loss of 275,000 allied troops and the battle has since become to embody the horror and futility of the war. The soldier and poet Siegfried Sassoon wrote of his experience: “I died in hell – they called it Passchendaele”. To mark the centenary, services are being held around the world today, with Ypres holding a service last night attended by Queen Mathilde and King Philippe of Belgium, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Speaking at the Menin Gate, Prince William said: "A more sacred place for the British does not exist in the world... During the first world war Britain and Belgium stood shoulder to shoulder. One hundred years on, we still stand together, gathering as so many do every night, in remembrance of that sacrifice.”

 

ROSL's members raised money throughout the war to provide comforts for the troops serving at the front. Today, we still remember the sacrifices made during the First World War through our annual tours to the battlefields of France and Belgium. Look out for other events to mark the centenary here.

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