Remembering Passchendaele: 100 Rounds For 100 Years

Master gunmaker to honour one of World War One's most brutal battles

It’s been 100 years since gunfire has been heard over the battlefields of Passchendaele, now a century on, muzzles are set to flash again.

This time, however, more than a dozen guns will sound in salute to the thousands that fell during the battle.

A world-renowned historical gunsmith, who specialises in re-conditioning old British Empire artillery pieces, will travel to the site to conduct the salute on November 10th.

In total 16 guns will fire 100 blank rounds – one for every year that has elapsed since the battle ended.

14th Battery of Australian Field Artillery, 5th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Division, Ypres Sector loading 18 pounder field gun
Loading 18 pounder field gun in the Ypres sector in 1917

John Slough, master gunmaker, will lead the convoy of trucks to the site.

The event is close to his heart as he lost his grandfather, Albert Slough, in the battle.

John Slough describes the tribute as his “responsibility”:

“There are no veterans left, so I thought ‘we shall have to do it.’”

Slough has assembled an international crew to serve the guns, including French, Belgian and British veterans of other conflicts.

john slough Passchendaele gun salute
Pictures: PA // John Slough, master gunmaker will lead the salute

Like the Somme, the Third Battle of Ypres has become synonymous with the violent realities of war.

The field of Flanders witnessed one of the bloodiest episodes in the First World War.

Infamous scenes of soldiers and war horses struggling through thick mud, while the barren landscape transformed into a deadly bog after the heaviest rain for 30 years.

Tanks were left redundant, rifles clogged and shelter uninhabitable.

Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres,
Picture: Frank Hurley // Scenes at Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres

Lasting 105 days, more than 4.5 million shells were fired killing 275,000 British and allied soldiers, while the German army saw 220,000 soldiers lost, wounded or killed.

To pay respect to the fallen, representatives will come from 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, whose forces played a key part of the battle in 1917.

Australians, New Zealanders and the Scottish Veteran’ Association will also be in attendance.