Nia Griffith MP has this week attended the First World War Passchendaele commemorations in her role as Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Defence. The commemorations which took place over two days in and around the Belgian town of Ypres were attended by the Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the King and Queen of Belgium, as well as the Prime Minister Theresa May, First Minister Carwyn Jones and many descendants of those who fought on the Western Front.
“I was privileged to attend the very fitting commemorations for the centenary of the 3rd battle of Ypres (Passchendaele). I was particularly glad that before going I had listened to the fascinating talks by Lt Col David Mathias and Great War Society at Llanelly House which provided an excellent introduction to moving events this week in and around Ypres, Belgium. I attended the very moving services, including the one at Menen Gate which is engraved with the names of thousands of fallen soldiers whose exact whereabouts has never been ascertained, a list of some 54,000 which is continued at Tyne Cot Cemetery. We were also privileged to see an emotive musical and dramatic presentation depicting the story of the battle of Passchendaele presented by Helen Mirren and Michael Morpurgo, with spectacular illumination against the side of the Cloth Hall in Ypres. Of course, for us in Wales, the tragedy of the battle is immortalised by the story of Hedd Wyn, the bardic poet who was killed at Passchendaele just days before he was to be proclaimed winner of the Chair at the Eisteddfod Like so many other Welsh people, I have a personal link to these events as my great uncle James Howells fell in action there in August 1917 and is buried in Bards Cottage Cemetery, just outside Ypres. As the WW1 commemorations draw to a close next year, it is important that we continue to remember all those who died in this war or those since.”