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Ashford Commemorates the Centenary of the Battle of Cambrai - 9th Oct

Ashford Commemorates the Centenary of the Battle of Cambrai - 9th Oct

Ashford Borough Council will be hosting an event to mark the centenary of the Battle of Cambrai, which took place on the 20th November 1917 during the First World War.

The Battle of Cambrai was the first major tank offensive of the war, and signified a major turning point in the history of warfare. 476 ‘Mark IV’ tank variants were deployed in the battle, with heavy losses on both sides.

A service of commemoration will take place on Friday 17th November at 11am at Ashford’s very own Mark IV tank, sited at St George’s Square in the town centre. Wreaths will be laid during the service and presentations on the history of the Battle of Cambrai and history of the Mark IV Tank will be given.

The event commemorates not only the men who bravely gave their lives during the battle, but also remembers those on the home front who underpinned the war effort. In fact, the people of Ashford responded so generously to the National War Savings Appeal, that in 1919 the town was presented with a Mark IV Tank in recognition of those efforts.

The tank is now a Grade II Listed, Registered War Memorial, and of the 265 tanks that were distributed to communities throughout England and Wales, it is now the sole surviving example on public display.

The event will be attended by The Mayor of Ashford Cllr Winston Michael, The Royal Tank Regiment Association, The Royal British Legion, SSAFA, Ashford Borough Museum Society, the Tank Club UK, and members of Ashford’s Gurkha community. Visitors and residents are warmly welcomed to attend the service, which will last approximately 40 minutes.

After the service, visitors and residents can meet with the above organisations who will be in Park Mall, sited adjacent to the tank, with stalls exhibiting information and memorabilia relating to WWI.

The Royal Tank Regiment Association will be telling the history of the battle and the regiment, and the Tank Club UK will be exhibiting a model of a modern tank highlighting how these vehicles have developed over time.

Visitors can discover the story of how the tank arrived in Ashford, and see interesting photographs and artefacts relating to WWI, courtesy of the Ashford Borough Museum.

The Royal British Legion and SSAFA will be providing information about their services, and the Gurkhas will be telling the history of their regiment’s role in WWI.

Ashford Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Culture, Cllr Mike Bennett, said: “it is important Ashford Borough Council marks this significant event to remember those who bravely gave their lives during the First World War.

“The Mark IV tank is a significant part of Ashford’s rich history and we are proud to have such a historic relic in the heart of the town centre. From more than 1000 tanks built for combat during WWI, it is the last of its kind to be on public outdoor display in a town, so it seems only fitting the commemoration service takes place there.

“We welcome the public to join us for the memorial service, and learn more about the impact of WW1 from the local history organisations and groups who will be there on the day.”

Voluntary groups and organisations are encouraged to get on board and help commemorate the centenary of WWI by applying for a WWI grant from Ashford Borough Council. The scheme helps local people with funding, so they can deliver projects which explore, conserve and share the heritage of significant historical events like WWI, and the ways in which it affected communities.

Applications can be made through the council's Community Grants Fund. For more information, visit the council website at http://www.ashford.gov.uk/your-community/grants-and-funding/

Media release 0273/17
For further information, please contact our Press Office on 01233 330719 or email christina.bailey@ashford.gov.uk

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