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The Prince of Wales spoke of the "courage and bravery" of British soldiers killed at Passchendaele as he led centenary commemorations of the First World War battle. Exactly 100 years after thousands of British and Commonwealth troops went "over the top", Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prime Minister Theresa May joined the King and Queen of Belgium and some 4,000 descendants of those who fought, for a ceremony at the enormous Tyne Cot cemetery near Ypres. In his address to the gathering, the Prince said: "We remember it not only for the rain that fell, the mud that weighed down the living and swallowed the dead, but also for the courage and bravery of the men who fought here." Prince Charles arrives for the ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commisions's Tyne Cot Cemetery Credit: Darren Staples/Getty He added: "In 1920, the war reporter Philip Gibbs - who had himself witnessed Third Ypres - wrote that 'nothing that has been written is more than the pale image of the abomination of those battlefields, and that no pen or brush has yet achieved the picture of that Armageddon in which so many of our men perished.' "Drawn from many nations, we come together in their resting place, cared for with such dedication by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, to commemorate their sacrifice and to promise that we will never forget." The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery on Monday Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA More than 100 days of fighting in the summer and autumn of 1917, starting on July 31, left more than half a million men dead or injured on both sides. The Tyne Cot cemetery is the largest Commonwealth burial ground in the world, with 11,971 servicemen buried and remembered there - 8,373 of whom are unidentified. Kate, dressed in a peach-coloured outfit, then joined Belgian Queen Mathilde and German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel in laying wreaths at the graves of four German soldiers buried in Tyne Cot. The Duchess of Cambridge at a cemetery on the outskirts of Ypres, Belgium Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Mrs May, sombrely dressed, read a Bible passage from Ecclesiasticus. The ceremony also included singing and the Calling Of The Names, personal stories of some of the thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers and others present at the battle, including nurses and stretcher-bearers. They also included a letter written by a German soldier. They included an account by Private Bert Ferns, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, who fought in the battle, read by Fusilier Shaun Mclorie. He said: "I staggered up the hill and then dropped over the slope into a sort of gully. "It was here that I froze and became very frightened because a big shell had just burst and blown a group of lads to bits; there were bits of men all over the place, a terrible sight, men just blown to nothing. "I just stood there. It was still and misty, and I could taste their blood in the air." Prime Minister Theresa May in Ypres Credit: Yui Mok/PA William completed the Calling Of The Names by reading that of the Unknown Soldier, saying he was "A soldier of the Great War, known unto God." Charles and King Philippe then led the laying of wreaths at the cross of remembrance. Former servicemen at the Commonwealth War Graves Commisions’s Tyne Cot Cemetery Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty It comes after William and Kate joined Mrs May to represent Britain at the Menin Gate and a later show in the Gross Markt square. William spoke as the daily Last Post was played at the towering edifice, inscribed with the names of the missing from three years of hard fighting around Ypres a century ago. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate on Sunday Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Watched by some 200 descendants of those who fought, he said: "During the First World War Britain and Belgium stood shoulder to shoulder. "One hundred years on, we still stand together, gathering as so many do every night, in remembrance of that sacrifice." Duke of Cambridge leads commemorations on 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele 00:43 Sunday's poignant Last Post was the 30,752nd time it has been played since 1928. The towering Menin Gate in the Belgian town is covered with the names of 54,391 British dead who have no known grave, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Battle of Passchendaele remembered 02:13 In just over three months of conflict there were more than half a million casualties - 325,000 Allied soldiers and 260,000 to 400,000 Germans - in the Belgian battlefields. Later, dignitaries and hundreds of guests watched the show, led by Dame Helen Mirren, which included testimony from soldiers projected on to the walls of the Cloth Hall. Passchendaele Map
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