At 2pm on Saturday, October 31, 1914, 357 men of Worcestershire’s streets, farms, factories and homes began a bayonet charge towards Gheluvelt Chateau, alongside the Menin Road in Flanders.
These men of the 2nd Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment were the British Expeditionary Force’s last throw of the dice. The Germans had broken through the British front line and were minutes away from marching to Ypres and then the Channel ports.
The wounded and stragglers from the pathetic remnants of the BEF’s thin line begged them to turn back, warning that it was murder to go on. But go on they did, under constant shell-fire. And saved the Allies from losing the war.
The audio documentary at the heart of this website – The Battle of Gheluvelt: The day the Worcesters saved civilisation – is inspired by those deeds.
It was produced to commemorate the centenary of that remarkable achievement, on Friday, October 31, 2014. For the generations that owe their modern-day lives to those 357 men, it’s a unique chance to celebrate their courage, to pay homage to them and their kind, and provide generations to come with a lasting record of that historic day.
Using remarkable Imperial War Museum audio of an interview with survivor William Finch – recorded when he was 95 – and other voices with a direct link to the events that day, the documentary sets the First World War in its historical context, and then follows the 2nd Worcesters on a journey whose towns, villages and woods are signposts to history... the Retreat from Mons, the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne, the First Battle of Ypres and, finally, the Battle of Gheluvelt.
The documentary takes listeners to Worcester, Ypres and Gheluvelt, the very heart of the landscapes and the action that sculpted Europe's modern shape.
Most of all, my objective is to create a lasting reminder of a long-forgotten, but immensely significant episode in our county’s and our country’s history. I hope you’ll listen and think I’ve succeeded.
The Battle of Gheluvelt: The day the Worcesters saved civilisation (illustrated edition)