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HMS Collingwood personnel remember centenary

5 December 2017
A group of personnel from HMS Collingwood recently travelled to Belgium to pay their respects to the fallen of the Royal Navy on the third Battle of Ypres one hundred years to the day.

The five-day mission, part of MIXG’s Adventurous Training (AT), saw six sailors from the Base’s Maritime Information Exploitation Group (MIXG) travel to Leper in Belgium to follow the exploits of the Royal Naval Division in the region around Ypres during 1917.

At the end of each day the team fell silent, paying their respects at the Menin Gate where the Last Post has been played every evening since 1928, except during World War 2.

The team began the tour by visiting war cemeteries and the Messines Ridge. 

This was the scene of an operation launched in June 1916 to detonate nineteen underground mines beneath the German lines.

They then travelled to Hill 60, east of Ypres which was the scene of horrific gas attacks that left hundreds dead.

Hill 60 was heavily shelled and mined by both sides and today its peaceful woodland undulations serve as a memorial to the countless soldiers who still lie beneath the ground there.

Moving to Hooge Crater, WO1 Simon Geen took the opportunity to brief the team on his familial ties to the site where his Great Grandfather fought and died in 1915.

The final day coincided with a memorial held at Varlet Farm in Passchendaele which the MIXG team were proud to support.

The strongly fortified farm was finally taken by Hood Battalion, Royal Naval Division in October 1917 after fierce fighting that all but decimated the buildings.

In fact by 1918, nothing of the original farm remained, although rebuilding commenced in 1922.

The memorial service commemorated 100 years since this fierce battle and was attended by descendants from all across the Globe.

Members of the MIXG team presented the current owner of Varlet Farm with an Ensign signed with a personal message on behalf of the Royal Navy and laid a wreath at nearby Tyne Cot cemetery where 11,900 World War One servicemen lie.

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