THE Battle of Passchendaele will be remembered on Monday as some 4,000 dignitaries and descendants of World War One soldiers gather in Passchendaele Memorial Park in Belgium, to mark 100 years since the start of the Third Battle of Ypres.
Known simply as Passchendaele, the three-month offensive was one of the bloodiest battles of the entire four year conflict, and came to symbolise the mud, death and misery experienced by millions of young men from across Europe and beyond.
Among the audience members attending Monday's memorial will be the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Belgian Royal Family, who will hear readings, poems and performances paying tribute to those who fought and died.
And appearing on stage will be two British schoolgirls, Rebecca Farnfield, 11, and 15-year-old Hannah Owens, who will recite their own moving poems about the war.
They are there thanks to Never Such Innocence, a project set up to inspire young people to take part in the Great War's centenary commemorations.
For Lady Lucy French, founder of Never Such Innocence, the girls' inclusion at such an event is just one example of a project that has exceeded all expectations.
Lady Lucy herself has a deeply personal connection to the war. Her great-grandfather was Field Marshal Sir John French (1852-1925), who commanded the British Expeditionary Forces from 1914 to 1915.
A hero of the Second Boer War, French was forced to resign following the Battle of Loos after his forces failed to capture Artois and Champagne from the Germans, suffering heavy losses in the process.
His reputation, like his successor Field Marshall Hague, remains a subject of debate to this day.
Lady Lucy said:
"I was very aware of him growing up, my aunt would talk about him and she'd take old soldiers who fought under him across the Belgium every year for the commemorations."
"She said they always spoke very fondly of him. I feel quite proud that he was one of the generals who bonded with his men.
"You've also got to remember that no one knew what was about to happen."
"It was unprecedented, nobody had every been in a situation like that before. It must have been terrifying."
Rebecca and Hannah won their respective age categories in the charity's annual poetry competition, and, as well as a cash prize, will now have their work heard by a select audience of invited guests.
She told Express.co.uk:
"It's been extraordinary. When we started I thought we might get about 100 entries. I never imagined we would be sifting through thousands, and from all over the world."
"At this year's awards ceremony we had a nine-year-old fly out from Malaysia and two children from Canada.
"We've even had to open up Welsh and Gaelic categories, because there was a demand."
Never Such Innocence launched in 2014, to tie in with the wider World War One centenary activities.
The organisation takes its name from the final stanza of Phillip Larkin's poem MCMXIV (the roman numerals for 1914), a meditation on the year the war began, before the world was changed forever.
Now a century on, and with every veteran who survived the war gone, it might be easy to presume the relevance of the conflict was starting to lose its impact with today's younger generations.
The quantity, and quality, of the poetry submitted to Never Such Innocence suggests this is emphatically not the case.
Lady Lucy said:
"I am amazed at the emotional intelligence of some of these children..
"I think it's very important that they should understand the sacrifices that have been made for us. As the song goes 'the children are our future'. "But they are so aware of what's going on, and this gives them a way to express how they feel."
Like her great-grandfather, Lady Lucy had no idea of the turmoil that was about to engulf Europe when she launched the charity three years ago.
Although the European Union has its roots in the Second World War, it was formed as a solution to the sort of extreme nationalism also seen 25 years before.
Rebecca Farnfield's "I Stand Alone"
Now Britain is leaving the bloc, a decision that has divided the country and will drastically alter the UK's relationship with the continent for generations to come.
The centenary, therefore, serves as a timely reminder of an era when Britain, and its overseas allies, were united by a common cause.
Lady Lucy said:
"In 2014 when we started this we had no idea what was to come.
"I think the messages coming out of the centenary are hugely important, in these hugely fractured times.
"It makes you realise we are all part of a shared history."
Next year will mark 100 years since the end of the war, and with it, the end of Never Such Innocence.
Hannah Owens' "Dear Ivy"
Lady Lucy said:
"It was always going to be a finite project.
"In 2019 I'll be bereft I'm sure, but for now we're very focused on getting the fourth and final year right.
"We're going to try and engage with as many people as we can, from all over the world, and get them all writing."
Lady Lucy said she was hoping to end the project on a positive note.
"Our resource pack includes "thinking points" which give the children a few suggestions about the themes and events they might want to explore.
"Next year we're going to be looking at the RAF, and doing a huge roadshow of RAF airbases.
"We've had a huge amount of mud, gas and rats. We're hoping to get the children out of trenches and up into the air, and finish in an altogether more hopeful mood."
For now Lady Lucy can look forward to Monday, when she will watch Rebecca and Hannah read their touching poems - "I Stand Alone" and "Dear Ivy" respectively.
That they will speak so close to where thousands of men died to ensure future generations could thrive sums up the entire purpose of Never Such Innocence.
Lady Lucy said:
"Those two girls are going to stand on stage in front of thousands of people and share their feelings about the war with them..
"When we talk about how we should mark this centenary I feel it should be with the voices of the next generation.
"They are the custodians of the future and they deserve to have this experience."