GHELUVELT CENTENARY COMMEMORATION 31ST OCTOBER 2014
It is hard to exaggerate the importance of the Battle of Gheluvelt, that took place on the 31st October 1914,
outside the city of Ypres in Belgium. Field Marshal Sir John French, who was commanding the British
Expeditionary Force (BEF) at the time, said that "on that day, the 2nd Worcesters saved the British Empire."
The action at Gheluvelt was part of the much larger First Battle of Ypres, where the outnumbered and
outgunned BEF struggled to hold off a much larger German Army intent on breaking through their lines
and sweeping through to the channel ports. Had they succeeded, the British Army could have found itself
involved in a Dunkirk-style evacuation, a quarter of a century before the actual one.
On the 31 October, around midday, the British line finally broke at Gheluvelt, and the Germans were poised
to make the breakthrough that could have won them the war. The only British reserves available were 364
men of the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment, who were sheltering nearby in Polygon
Wood. Led by Major Edward Hankey, they mounted a bayonet charge, through heavy artillery and machine
gun fire, and drove more than 1,000 German troops out of the grounds of Gheluvelt chateau, and the
surrounding area. They managed to 'plug' the hole in the British line, and save the day for the BEF, but not
without the sacrifice of 187 soldiers who were killed or wounded in the counter attack. A famous painting of
Major Hankey and his troops in the grounds of the chateau hangs in Worcester Museum and Art Gallery.
Please visit this link for a very detailed description on the Battle www.worcestershireregiment.com
THE BATTLE QUOTATION
The day's fighting had cost the 2nd Worcestershire a third of the Battalion's remaining strength, for 187 of
all ranks had been killed or wounded: “Let it never be forgotten that the true glory of the ﬁght at Gheluvelt
lies not in the success achieved but in the courage which urged our solitary Battalion to advance
undaunted amid all the evidence of retreat and disaster to meet great odds in a battle apparently lost”. Field
Marshal Sir Claud Jacob GCB KCSI KCMG
The foundation stone for Gheluvelt Park was laid on 16 January 1919 by Field Marshal Sir William Robertson.
The bungalows within the park, built to provide homes for retired and disabled servicemen, were officially
opened on 13 July 1920.
The park itself, with its distinctive bandstand in the middle of a small lake, was opened on 17 June 1922 by
Field Marshal John French, who was by then the Earl of Ypres. As well as the modern Gheluvelt “interpretative
feature” (see below) the park has a memorial archway, near the junction of the Ombersley and Drotwich roads
- a plaque on the archway reads:
"City of Worcester homes for disabled sailors and soldiers. The houses that form the central block of
these homes were erected to commemorate the Battle of Gheluvelt, in which the Worcestershire Regiment
took a very distinguished part."
HISTORY OF GHELUVELT PARK
Gheluvelt Park was originally named Barbourne Park, after the area to which it belongs. The park was named
in honour of the Worcestershire Regiment and was opened by Field Marshal John French, 1st Earl of Ypres
on the 17th June 1922 to commemorate the Regiment’s part in the battle. Gheluvelt Riverside
Conservation Area was previously the site of Barbourne water processing works. It was decommissioned in
1999. The land was purchased by Worcester City Council to allow the extension of the park up to the
River Severn. The style of the park differs from that of ‘old’ Gheluvelt, which is formal Victorian; the new
section of park is laid out as informal un-improved pasture and lawns. The modern Gheluvelt Park
(including the Conservation Area) is a 7.62 hectare (18.829 acres) free to access Public Park situated to
the northwest of the City of Worcester, which is owned and managed by Worcester City Council. The park
forms an important link in a much wider chain of parks, walks and green spaces within the city. A very popular
city park much loved by local residents, it also attracts visitors from across the City and further afield and
offers an excellent play area, Splash Pad interactive water play space, tennis courts, a Sons of Rest Pavilion and bandstand.
Gheluvelt Park - Homes for Heroes (Almshouses)
Sir Arthur Carlton was Mayor of Worcester during WW1. As Alderman Carlton, he was Chairman of the
Committee for the building of the park and houses. He was the manager of the Theatre Royal in Worcester
and as Mayor he proposed and signed off the change of name of the Park and the building of the Homes
within it. After he lost his son at Gallipoli, he raised money to purchase a tank, ‘Cynthia Carlton’, which was
driven through the streets of Worcester and after the war it was returned to the City. His son, Laurence
Carlton, is remembered in a window in the cloisters of Worcester Cathedral. Alderman Carlton`s name was
put on the Foundation Stone of the first house near the main gates when building started in 1919.
Haig Homes is the leading UK provider of rental housing for ex-Service people. Douglas Haig Memorial Homes,
known as Haig Homes, was established as a Charitable Trust in 1929 as a memorial to Field Marshal Earl Haig
of Bemersyde in recognition of his work to highlight and solve many problems facing ex-Service people and
their families. He was particularly concerned with the plight of those disabled during their service in
theatres of war and the difficulties created by this in their civilian lives. The object of the Trust is to provide
housing assistance to ex-Service people and/or their dependants. Currently this object is achieved by letting
homes at affordable rents. To be considered for housing, applicants must have a British Armed Forces
connection and be in housing need. The Association has over 1,300 houses, flats, maisonettes and bungalows throughout the UK.
Gheuluvelt Park - World War 1 Interpretative Feature
The sculpture honours the men who fought at the Battle of Gheluvelt in 1914. Opened in 2010 this
modern work is a striking focal point of Gheluvelt Park, designed by London-based architects Plincke and
funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and is made from corten steel panels, concrete and granite. Every
element of the sculpture has a meaning. Each panel represents a battle of the First World War, with the
varying heights reflecting the number of casualties, while granite setts symbolise the Worcestershire
soldiers who fought in the Battle of Gheluvelt. The sixth panel explains the Worcestershire Regiment’s role
in the Great War and in late summer swathes of poppies, the poignant symbol of the First World War
battlefields, grow in the middle of the semi-circular sculpture. Keith Hall, project manager for the work,
said: “We hope it will teach or remind people what the name Gheluvelt means. It’s a physical structure giving a
solidity to what Gheluvelt Park is – a memorial. ” As well as being a focal point for the park, the memorial will act
as an open-air classroom for schoolchildren to learn about the battle.
Alderman Mrs Sabine Vanderhaeghen and Mr Patrick Baert, representing the Mayor of
Zonnebeke. Zonnebeke is a Belgian municipality comprising five villages, including Gheluvelt.
Timings for Commemoration
Branch / Association Members please be in place by 10:45hrs (on left as entered through main
gates. volunteers will also be needed for other duties before, during and after, meet and greet etc)
To arrive by latest 11:15
Dedication of Stone 11:30
Wreath Laying at Feature 12:00 approx
Displays and food Stalls open from 10:00 – 14:30
Memorial to the Worcestershire Regiment A new Memorial Stone of Malvern granite, dedicated to all
ranks of the Worcestershire Regiment, will be unveiled by Mrs Julia Brotherton, granddaughter of Major
Hankey. The memorial commemorates those who served in the Worcestershire Regiment prior to the
The Gheluvelt Interpretative Feature In 2010 Worcester City Council with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund
and in conjunction with the Regiment opened an interpretative modern sculpture in the Park that seeks
to explain the significance of the Battle, to act as a Memorial to the Gheluvelt fallen and to commemorate
other battles of the Regiment. This will be the venue for the second part of the Centenary Commemoration,
consisting of a service and wreath laying and should conclude at approximately 12.30 p.m.
Displays and Stalls After the wreath laying there will be an opportunity to visit various displays from City,
County and veterans’ organisations and the Mercian Regiment.
Disabled can be dropped off at main gates , Barbourne Rd, If self driven the official car park is at
the north end of Pitchcroft Racecourse approached via Waterworks Road WR1 3EZ. This is approximately an
800 metres walk to the Memorial Stone.
Note You are advised that this is an open air event with no cover in the event of inclement weather.
The Memorial Stone
In 2012, preparations for the Centenary of the Great War were launched at the Guildhall Worcester. A suggestion box
was started for ideas to commemorate the 100th year since hostilities began. One idea that struck a chord with
members of Worcester Branch WFRA was for a Regimental Memorial to All Ranks of the Worcestershire Regiment, in the
County City of Worcestershire. Gheluvelt Park was chosen as an ideal site, a boulder of Malvern Granite has been selected
and installed. In addition to St George`s Chapel in Worcester Cathedral, old Soldiers will now have a site where the service
of the Regiment, at home and overseas, is remembered.In tribute to Major Hankey`s leadership at the Battle of
Gheluvelt, his Grandaughter, Mrs Julia Brotherton has been invited to unveil the Worcestershire Regiment Memorial Stone.
The new Memorial Stone to all Ranks of the Worcestershire Regiment was made possible with the help of the following:
Mr Stephen Bound and Col. Trevor Wilson (Late Worc Regt) of The Malvern Hills Conservators for the kind
donation of the Stone.
Mr Barry Dinsdale, For removing the stone from the Quarry at North Malvern to Callow End.
Mr Steve Allard, Stonemason, for the inscription of the stone.
Gheluvelt Park Staff for digging out of plot.
Jewsons of Diglis Worcester, For use of lorry and crane to position stone.
Mr Colin Stratford, of Lafarge Tarmac western, Ball Mill, Grimley, for donation of aggregate.
Mr Damien McAvoy. Of Bradford Building Supplies, Malvern. For the donation of the blue bricks and sand.
Mr Mark Underwood of Underwoods Steel Stockholders of Hereford, for donation of Bars.
Mr David Nesbitt, of Malvern, for drilling of posts.
Mr David Plant of Malvern, (Malayan Veteran) Worcester Branch Member,
for laying of foundations, bricks, concrete, gravel and posts surrounding Memorial Stone, Also supply of
President and Committee of Worcester Branch for organising the project.
Donations towards costs of Memorial Stone were kindly given by.
Worcester Branch Members,
Mercian Volunteers. Kidderminster Branch.
The Gheluvelt 100th Commemoration Day
The 31st of October 2014 has been organised by the President and Committee of Worcester Branch W.F.R.A.
Sponsored by:- The Armed Forces Covenant, County Councillors.
The Mercian Regiment Mercian Regimental Museum (Worcestershire) 214 (Worcestershire) Battery Royal Artillery. Capt. David Morgan, RA PSAO
Worcestershire World War 100
Worcester City Council. Michelle Newell , Stuart Minchin, Mark Worrall, Gary Smith and Park Staff
Worcester Racecourse Pitchcroft
Duckworth Trust, Pump House Staff Catering
Mr Mark Skyrme, Sky Sound
West Mercia Police, Worcester Rich Print, Worcester. Andy Pearson and Jon Bradley British Red Cross
Events in the Park
The Service will commence with the firing of an artillery piece and will consist of Dignitaries of Worcestershire,
The Mercian Regiment, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regimental Association, Welsh
Regiments Association, Mercian Volunteers Regimental association. Cadets, Royal British Legion and Invited
Guests. Music will be provided by The Royal Logistics Corps Band. During the Service and Dedication of the
Memorial Stone, Mrs Julia Brotherton will unveil the Memorial Stone. After the Service the Mercian Regiment
will lead down to the Interpretative Feature, Where there will be a short service and wreath laying.
There will be music in the park from Royal Logistic Corps Band. Static displays. Marquees with
displays. Stalls and food stalls, In the Council work area near the Sons of Rest Pavillion, Dave Cotterill will have
his pig roast doing pork rolls for £1. to those in Regimental ties / uniform. There is also the Pump
House Cafe in the park. Within the outside area of the park there are shops and pubs where refreshments can
also be bought. Afterwards the Royal British Legion at Claines will be open for drinks.
Map and images at bottom of page, more images to follow soon.