DESCENDENTS of soldiers who fought in arguably the Worcestershire Regiment's most famous battle are being invited to special memorial service in Worcester on Friday, October 31.

The date will mark exactly 100 years since less than 400 men of the Regiment's 2nd Battalion staged a counter attack against overwhelming odds and changed the course of the First World War. Near the little town of Gheluvelt in Belgium, their bravery thrust back the German advance, plugged a hole in the Allied defensive line and saved the Channel ports.

To commemorate the momentous event, soldiers from the Mercian Regiment, plus regimental mascot ram Derby XXX, civic dignitaries, old soldiers and a 35-strong army band will gather for the service in Gheluvelt Park, Barbourne.

Also present will be relatives of soldiers who took part in the battle. "However, we would love to hear from more people whose relatives fought with the Worcestershire Regiment at Gheluvelt, so we can share their stories and make sure their heroic deeds are never forgotten,” said Maurice Smith, secretary of the Worcesters and Foresters Regimental Association. "We would like as many as possible to be there with us to remember. I can be easily contacted via"

Members of the public are also invited the attend the ceremony, which will begin at 11.15 am when soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the Mercian Regiment - the Worcestershire Regiment's successors - will march, carrying the colours of the 1st and 4th Battalions, to a special commemorative stone opposite the main park gates on Barbourne Road. They will be accompanied by Private Derby XXX, the regimental mascot, the 35-strong band of the Royal Logistics Corp and members of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regimental Association.

At 11.30am a field gun will fire two shots to signal the start of the service. Mrs Julia Brotherton, who grandfather Major Edward Hankey, commanded the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment at the Battle of Gheluvelt., will then unveil the commemorative stone. The stone was removed from a quarry in Malvern in February and has been donated by Malvern Hills Conservators. A specially engraved plaque states that it is: “In memory of all ranks of the Worcestershire Regiment who served their country at home and overseas.” The plaque also features two Worcestershire Regiment badges, one in use until 1926, the second adopted between 1926 and 1970.

The Bishop of Worcester, the Right Reverend Dr. John Inge, will read a dedication and afterwards everyone will move down to the park’s First World War memorial feature, where a Service of Remembrance will begin, conducted by Canon Paul Tongue. The names of the 34 men who died in the Battle of Gheluvelt will be read out, followed by the laying of wreaths.

Among those attending the event will be the Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Lt Col Patrick Holcroft, the Colonel of the Mercian Regiment, Brigadier Andrew Williams, Worcester city councillors and mayors and council chairmen of various Worcestershire towns and local authorities, as well as officials from the town of Gheluvelt . Also present will be the great grandson of Sir Arthur Carlton, who was Mayor of Worcester during the First World War and the man responsible for re-naming the then Barbourne College Playing Fields to Gheluvelt Park in honour of the Worcestershire Regiment's finest hour.