This week marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Passchendaele battle during the Great War of 1914-1918. Passchendaele is located in Belgium just across the border from France, and the Germans were entrenched there. Torrential rain turned the battlefields into mud swamp land, where not only did the soldiers have to contend with the shells and bullets from the opposition trenches, but get caught off the marked out tracks, you could be sucked into the mud.

Approximately over 270,000 British soldiers alone were killed during across the four month battle and over 90,000 of those have no known grave and of that number over 40,000 soldiers that died never had their bodies found, lost to the fields.

The battle was fought out over four months before the Allied troops gained the upper hand over the Germans. The total land gained though, after all the losses was just five miles.

Many footballers across the country signed up to serve and fight, and so it was that in Flanders fields three former footballers, three former West Ham United footballers lost their lives in the service of their country.

William Kirby

Born in Preston he joined the Hammers in 1903 from Swindon scoring on his debut against Millwall. Played just for one season before rejoining Swindon in 1904. he played 33 games in the Southern League scoring 10 goals.

Fighting for the 6th battalion of the East Yorks regiment, He was killed on  the 3/10/2017 around Polygon Woods outside of Ypres. William is buried at Bard Cottage Cemetery Belgium

Sydney Hammond

Born in Woolwich in 1883, Sydney joined West Ham in 1904. In 4 years with the club only managed 34 games without scoring.

Was Killed October 1917 fighting in the Passchendaele conflict in the Royal Field Artillery. He is buried in La Clytte Cemetery.

Frederick Griffiths

A Welshman capped by his country, he played 52 times for West Ham between 1902 & 1904

Working as a coal miner in the Midlands he enlisted in the Notts and Derbyshire Regiment. Killed on October 30th 1917, he is buried in Dozingham Cemetery.

Just three of the half a million men from all sides that lost their lives fighting over mud spattered fields. May all soldiers from all sides never be forgotten.