The centenary of the Battle of Gheluvelt has long resonated with the folk who live in the small village, a few miles south-east along the Menin Road from Ypres, many of them from families who were forced to become refugees and flee to France as the Germans advanced through Flanders towards that historic town, the gateway to the Channel.

There are reminders all around them.

The memorials.

The cemeteries.

The frequent appearance of shell casings and spent bullets on the land.

The occasional discovery of the body of a soldier.

For the younger generation, it hasn't been hard to connect their lives and their lifestyle with the gallantry show by the 2nd Worcesters and the 1st South Wales Borderers on Saturday, October 31, 1914. How different those lives would have been if the charge had failed.

But for Evy Louwagie, the connection is stronger than most, if not all. That's because Major Edward Hankey led his 357 chargers from Polygon Wood across farmland that still belongs to her family.

Her whole life has centred on that 1,000-yard slice of killing field. If there's such a thing as ghosts, how many wander that historic slice of Belgium?

Evy. A modern teenager with a sharp idea of what those 2nd Worcesters – some only a few years older than her – sacrificed their lives for 100 years ago.

And also the young, female voice chosen to read some of the names of the Worcestershire Regiment Roll of Honour in the Gheluvelt documentary.

Here, in her own words, is how she reflects on those remarkable men.... 

The war….

It is a theme a lot of young people don’t think about enough.

The soldiers have fought for us, the younger generation.

They have left their lives for us.

The war destroyed the whole village.

Now we find yet bombs and grenades on the fields. Every year, die people still because of the war. It’s because some bombs could explode. A lot of young people lost one of their grandparents, great-grandparents or somebody else of their family during the war.

In the primary school, we rarely paid attention to the war. We never went with the school to Ypres, because – for us – Ypres is a simply village.

When we went to the college, every day we passed under the Menin Gate. Yet, we have not much awareness of how important this place is.

It’s only when I went to hear to Last Post, at 20.00 hours, that I was surprised how quiet it was. Everybody is quiet and is listening to the music. It’s very special to see.

Every evening, a lot of people come to Last Post. So, the soldiers are yet after 100 years commemorated.

A lot of people left their lives, but the soldiers continued to fight. I think that the soldiers didn’t lose the courage, because they found support by each other.

In Poperinge, there was Talbot House. This was a place where the soldiers could take a break. At this place were new friendships created. Everybody was welcome in this house.

Now, there is a museum and a bed and breakfast in this house. We have been with the college to this place.

The meadow crossed by the 2nd Worcesters on their charge towards Gheluvelt Chateau

Evy Louwagie in the meadow crossed by the 2nd Worcesters on their charge towards Gheluvelt Chateau. Polygon Wood sits at the top of the slope behind. Picture courtesy of Evy Louwagie

At home, on the farm, we still often come into contact with the war.

When we harvest the potatoes with the machine, we find a lot of bombs and grenades. Sometimes, this is dangerous if they can still explode.

Even if we work the land or if we plough, we find many bombs. Sometimes they are small, but sometimes we find big bombs.

We have in our meadow a bunker. This is also remains of the war.

On different places there are statues and museums about the war. I live near the Polygon Wood. There is recently a new monument. Every day there comes a lot of people to this place.

Polygon Wood bombs

Bombs found on the Louwagie family's farm, a few hundred yards from Polygon Wood. Picture courtesy of Evy Louwagie

During the war, Polygon Wood was the limit to which was fought. The castle was completely destroyed by the war, but is reconstructed.

Shortly after the war, the first female Mayor of Belgium lived in this castle. Now, this castle doesn’t have a special meaning anymore. There lives a rich family in this castle.

In the high school, we have visited several places like Talbot House, In Flanders Fields museum, and Dr. Guislain museum.

In Flanders Fields museum and Dr. Guislain museum have worked together on a double exhibition. In Gent (Dr. Guislain Museum), it was about war and trauma. This went on in a psychiatric institution.

Ypres was about the places at the front where the wounded people were cared for, how they were cared and how they were evacuated.

This double exhibition was on display from 01/11/2013 to 30/06/2014.

The next four years will be still attached in our region much more importance to the war. After 100 years, we still cannot forget the victims.

EVY LOUWAGIE

Battle of Gheluvelt commemoration in association with....

Worcester Warriors websiteThe audio documentary at the heart of this Battle of Gheluvelt commemorative project would not have been possible without the support of Worcester Warriors and The Duckworth Worcestershire Trust. Please click the logos for more details

Gheluvelt: The documentary

Worcetershire Regiment cap badge 1914Find out how the Gheluvelt documentary happened by following this link, and start reading the remarkable stories that didn't make the final cut.... 

The visit you ought to make

Gheluvelt 1914 detailLet's set you on your way so that you, too, can research your family connections to Gheluvelt, or visit the other battlefields of Flanders... and you should. 

Please tell us about your hero

Ypres cornflowerFamily or feedback? If you're related to a Gheluvelt hero, email intouch@battleofgheluvelt.co.uk and share his story with a grateful nation