Flanders Monument Honors Welsh WWI Soldiers

A new Flanders monument has been erected, in order to honor the many soldiers from Wales who lost their lives while fighting in the First World War one hundred years ago. Somewhere in the vicinity of one thousand people were present for its unveiling, joining together to pay their respects. A number of people had campaigned for the installation of the Flanders monument, and now they are finally able to see the fruits of their labors as their wish becomes a reality.

When factoring in all branches of the military who fought on land, at sea, and in the air, there were around forty thousand Welshmen lost during the First World War. In the Belgian city of Langemark, a great number of Welshmen fell during the Battle of Passchendaele. The Flanders monument came about due to the realization that despite their importance in the Battle of Passchendaele, and the numbers they lost during the war in general, the Welsh had not been truly honored by any existing memorials. One of the coordinators of a group that campaigned to have the memorial installed stated that this memorial is meant for the benefit of future generations, who will be able to honor their ancestors at the memorial.

Since the point of the memorial is to honor Welsh soldiers, the memorial itself has been made by Welsh citizens. Even the materials, such as the Pontypridd stones used to create the memorial, are from various parts of Wales. The Flanders monument was also conceived by a Welsh artist from Tenby. The memorial includes a large dragon made of red bronze, which sits atop four blue pennant stones, the BBC News reports.

The unveiling came at the end of a large memorial ceremony. Members of the Welsh military were present, and there was a wreath laying in honor of the soldiers to whom the Flanders monument is dedicated. There were a few speakers, who told the stories of some of the men who died during the war. There were also many standard proceedings common amongst memorial ceremonies, such as the raising of the flag and the playing of the Last Post.

The Flanders monument is meant to right a perceived wrong by ensuring that there is now a memorial dedicated to tens of thousands of fallen Welsh soldiers, allowing future generations to pay tribute to their fallen countrymen as they learn about the Great War. This is not necessarily the first Welsh memorial (there is at least one in France), but the new Flanders monument has appeased many Welsh citizens who wished to see more honor steeped upon their fallen soldiers.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE