THOUSANDS of people from Irvine will be remembering their relatives who died in the Battle of Passchendaele this week.

The World War One battle took place from July 31 to November 6 1917 and, though figures are hard to be concrete, it is estimated 325,000 Allied troops and 260,000 German troops lost their lives.

Known officially as the Third Battle of Ypres, the casualty numbers and the effect that the mud had on the battle made it one of the harshest battles of the war.

Artillery shells bombing down on the battle field destroyed the drainage system, and in the winter of 1917 the rain flooded everything, meaning that troops made very little advancements, usually waist high in mud.

The thick mud also had an adverse affect on the machinery that the troops carried with them, as it clogged up rifles and immobilised tanks Glenn Kerr, who lives in Irvine told the Times of his grandfather’s heroism in the battle.

He said: “My grandfather, William Stewart from Irvine fought in the Battle of Passchendaele, and was wounded.

“I remember seeing him in hospital in his later years and seeing the wounds from machine gun fire up the length of his arm.

“He lay for almost two days in no man's land with machine gun wounds in his arm before being found by German medics.

“He was taken back behind their lines and operated on by a German surgeon, who effectively saved his life.

“ He remained there for three days until he was out of danger, and was then handed over to the British Red Cross.

“My grandfather rarely spoke of the war, but he mentioned to my father that the conditions for the men fighting at Passchendaele were horrific – he remembered seeing men who were so utterly exhausted, that they just collapsed in the tranches and drowned in the knee-high water and mud.

“After recuperating, he was given a few weeks’ leave to visit his family.

“As he got off the train at Euston station, two military policemen asked him where his gaiters were and told him he was improperly dressed.

“He replied – using expletives – that he had left them in no man’s land at Passchendaele, where they should have been.

“He was then arrested and taken to Colchester prison where he remained for three months, before being sent into action again. “My grandfather said the treatment he got from the Germans was better than that received from his own – they treated him with much respect.

“He was also shell-shocked and I know his experience at Passchendaele affected him deeply.

“Like many who fought in WW1, he never ever mentioned his time in the war.”

Glenn’s grandfather was lucky to come home alive, his brother Archibald was not so lucky.

Glenn said: “His elder brother Archibald died two years before in the 2nd Battle of Ypres (April-May 1915) and his body was never found.

“Archibald died on 18 May 1915, aged 24, barely one month after landing in France. His name appears on the roll of the dead at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium “Their mother suffered a lot through having both her sons in the war and never quite recovered from losing Archie, especially as his body was never recovered.”