John Kimm, a hero of his time.

A few weeks ago I was privileged to attend the Centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele in Flanders, Belgium.  I was invited to attend because I had a Great Great Uncle, John Kimm, who was killed on the first day of the battle, 31st July 1917.

While there it was an honour to sing the song I wrote about him, ‘Hero o’ Your Time’ at the Zero Hour Dawn Service exactly 100 years on from when the battle began and just yards from where he fought and died that day.  Performing the song as the sun rose over the fields of Flanders will be a moment that will live long in my memory.  Here is a video of that moment along with a short interview I done with a local television station.

On the eve of my performance I attended the special centenary ‘Last Post’ Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, where afterwards I was fortunate to be introduced to the Duchess of Cambridge, who after showing an interest in John Kimm’s story, I presented with a copy of my new album ‘Beinn Alba’ which contains  recording of the song.

Image shows the HRH The Duchess of Cambridge inside the Cloth Hall. HRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined military leaders, senior politicians and Royals in Belgium to mark the centenary anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele, the Third Battle of Ypres. The battle in Flanders began on 31 July 1971 and was a major engagement in the First World War, claiming the lives of around 275,000 British and Commonwealth Military personnel and around 200,000 German lives.   Sir Michael Fallon joined Prime Minister Theresa May, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The King and Queen of Belgium and other dignitaries for the playing of the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.  Music and readings were added to the traditional nightly service which has happened for over 90 years.A Sunset Ceremony took place at the Cloth Hall, Ypres after the ceremony at Menin Gate. Light was projected onto the Cloth Hall in the Market Square providing the backdrop to an evening of storytelling and music about the experience of soldiers during four years of war on the Ypres Salient. The UK Government, in collaboration with the Belgian Government, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and the Royal British Legion are hosting a series of events to mark one of the defining battles of the First World War. The Chief of the Defence Staff, Joint Force Commander and heads of the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force are in Belgium, where visitors will to pay their respects at Tyne Cot cemetery near the village of Passchendaele. It is the largest Commonwealth War Grave in the world.   Members of the UK Armed Forces took part in the event with the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment and The Band of the Welsh Guards providing music. The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing which covers the area known as the Ypres Salient. The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it