JOURNALIST and Worcester News columnist John Phillpott has planted a unique oak sapling in the city's Gheluvelt Park.

It has grown from an acorn he picked up in Polygon Wood, not far from the site of the crucial First World War battle at Gheluvelt, from which the park takes its name. The tree will be a lasting reminder of the sacrifice made by the 34 members of the regiment who lost their lives and those wounded at the action on October 31, 1914 near the Belgian town of Ypres.

Mr. Phillpott’s great uncle, a soldier of the First Battalion the Northamptonshire Regiment, was badly wounded hours before the lead-up to the engagement at Gheluvelt involving the Worcestershire Regiment. He said: “I picked up an acorn two years ago in Polygon Wood, near Gheluvelt. I popped it in my pocket with a view to growing it and perhaps doing something with it. It came up in the spring and is now 4.5 feet tall. I’ve been looking after it like a parent looks after a child. I contacted former Mayor Mike Layland, who has played a major role in ensuring this tree will grow as a symbol of remembrance in the park.”

Mr. Phillpott made a short speech at the tree planting ceremony and read the famous poem by John McCrae, In Flanders Fields. This was followed by an open air service to mark the 102nd anniversary of the Battle of Gheluvelt.

The commemorations were organised by the Worcester branch of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Association and were attended by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, the Mayor and Mayoress of Worcester, representatives of Mercian Regiment, and former Worcester mayor Mike Layland.

Maurice Smith of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Association, Worcester Branch, added: "The park is a memorial to the Worcestershire Regiment. Through changes made within the modern British Army our antecedent regiment is the 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, which is also remembered on this day.”

The service included the playing of the Last Post, two minutes’ silence followed by Reveille and prayers. The names of the 34 fallen heroes were also read out.