It would be easy, but wrong, to focus on the unfathomable courage shown by the 2nd Worcesters in the counter-attack and forget the significant gallantry that had held the advancing mass of 13,000 Germans at bay until the British line finally broke on the third day of the Battle of Gheluvelt.

In the hours before Major Hankey's men became the last throw of the dice that Saturday afternoon, barely a thousand men, the remnants of five British battalions, were defending the Menin Road. Before midday, the numbers told.

Straddling the road, the 2nd Welch had only 70 of their thousand men standing. To their left, the 1st Queen's numbered barely 50. To their left again, the 2nd Kings Royal Rifle Corps had been overwhelmed. Beside them, the 1st North Lancs Loyals numbered just 26, while the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers had fought to the last. The right flank of the 1st South Wales Borderers, on the north side of the road, opposite Gheluvelt chateau, had also been rolled back.

The stragglers from that front line warned, even begged the Worcesters to turn back as they advanced down from Polygon Wood, across the Reutelbeek and up to the crest of Polderhoek Ridge.

That sentence alone sheds the clearest spotlight on why Field Marshal Sir Claud Jacob GCB KCSI KCMG chose these words as a tribute to the chargers, and why their willingness to press on should never be forgotten.

Let it never be forgotten that the true glory of the fight at Gheluvelt lies not in the success achieved but in the charge which required our solitary battalion to advance, undaunted, amid all the evidence of retreat to meet great odds in a battle apparently lost.

Fewer than 500 men saved the day:

Battle of Gheluvelt Roll of Honour

The Worcesters who gave their lives

Heroes of our nation

The men who are believed to have been a part of that victory

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