Commemoration will mark ‘appalling’ battle

Embargoed to 0001 Saturday July 8

Undated handout photo issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of soldiers during the First World War's battle of Passchendaele. A new exclusive short story by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo will be performed in Belgium to mark the centenary of the battle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday July 8, 2017. See PA story MEMORIAL Passchendaele. Photo credit should read: DCMS/PA Wire

NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Embargoed to 0001 Saturday July 8 Undated handout photo issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of soldiers during the First World War's battle of Passchendaele. A new exclusive short story by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo will be performed in Belgium to mark the centenary of the battle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday July 8, 2017. See PA story MEMORIAL Passchendaele. Photo credit should read: DCMS/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

A new exclusive short story by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo will be performed in Belgium to mark the centenary of the First World War’s battle of Passchendaele.

Extracts from The Wipers Times, the play by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman about the satirical newspaper produced by troops fighting around Ypres, will also be performed at the commemoration in the Belgian town.

Images from the war will be projected on to the town’s Cloth Hall, and the event on Sunday, July 30 will also feature interviews with First World War veterans and accounts from soldiers, nurses and loved ones.

It will be preceded by the Last Post ceremony that has taken place every evening since 1928 at Ypres’ Menin Gate - inscribed with the names of more than 54,000 soldiers whose bodies were never found or identified.

The following day there will be a ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Tyne Cot cemetery attended by thousands of descendants of the men who fought in the battle.

The battle of Passchendaele was fought between July 31 and November 10 1917. Battlefields turned to liquid mud.

Allied forces suffered more than 320,000 casualties and German losses are estimated to be between 260,000 and 400,000.

Mr Morpurgo’s reading of his From Farm Horse To War Horse will be accompanied by an appearance by the horse puppet Joey from the National Theatre stage adaptation of War Horse.

Mr Morpurgo said the event would reflect on one of the “most appalling” battles of the First World War.