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Francis Ledwidge: Irish poet killed at Battle of Passchendaele remembered

British royal the Prince of Wales and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence during a wreath laying ceremony at the Artillery Wood Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium. Picture by Tim Rooke, Press Association
David Wilcock, Press Association

BRITISH royal the Prince of Wales has paid tribute to an Irish poet killed on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele.

Francis Ledwidge, from near Slane in Co Meath and a soldier with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed on July 31 1917.

Known as the "poet of the blackbirds", Ledwidge joined the Irish Volunteers in 1914 but later enlisted in the British army when war broke out in August of the same year.

Prince Charles laid wreaths at the graves of Ledwidge and Welsh-language poet Ellis Humphrey Evans - also known as Hedd Wyn - who was killed on the same day as the Irish writer. Both are buried at Artillery Wood Cemetery near Ypres in Belgium.

The prince spoke to Ledwidge's great nephew Frank, Frank's wife Nebi and their son James Ledwidge (11), who live in England.

Mrs Ledwidge said: "He asked what the relationship between them was and said it was terrible, all this, the young people (in the war) and how young they were".

James added: "He asked me if I wrote poetry and if I was into it - I do like poetry".

The prince also paid tribute to Welsh soldiers killed in the conflict as he spoke at the Welsh National Memorial near Ypres.

He joined Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones and Chris Coleman, the manager of the Wales football team, in speaking in front of hundreds of civilians and soldiers.

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