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Centenary service for cricketer Colin 'Charlie' Blythe - killed at Passchendaele

By Gerry Warren

The poignant story of a cricketing legend who was killed at Passchendaele in 1917 will be revealed during the Kent Centenary Service in Canterbury this month.

Colin 'Charlie' Blythe, who bowled for Kent and England, lost his life near Ypres when a piece of shrapnel passed through his wallet, defacing the photo of his wife Janet and piercing his heart.

His career and tragic loss will feature at the service at the Kent Spitfire ground on Sunday, which will be the largest First World War centenary commemoration in Kent.

Legendary Kent and England cricketer Colin Blythe
Legendary Kent and England cricketer Colin Blythe

It will include a 100-word 'centena' to Blythe by writer Stephen Barnaby which will be published in a free souvenir programme for the event, sponsored by the KM Media Group.

Blythe played for Kent between 1899 and 1914. He turned out in 439 matches and took 2,503 wickets.

Mr Barnaby said: “My decision to write about Charlie Blythe really stemmed from a long-term obsession with cricket and cricket history.

"I'd long been aware of his poignant story, though not the finer details of his background nor indeed of his final moments.”

Mr Barnaby's work is part of the Imperial War Museum’s 26 Armistice project which features short stories inspired by 100 different individuals’ experience of the First World War.

Around 2,000 people from across the county have already booked to attend this unique free event, but tickets are still available.

Colin Blythe's wallets which were pierced by shrapnel when he was killed
Colin Blythe's wallets which were pierced by shrapnel when he was killed

It will take the form of a drumhead service, just as it would happen on the battlefield.

The 3rd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and Band will be parading before the service.

Cadets, military bands, the Salvation Army Band, Brompton and Shorncliffe Military Wives Choirs and Cathedral choirs from Canterbury and Rochester will also be taking part.

The Flying Tigers, the freefall parachute team, will provide a dramatic climax by landing on the Spitfire Ground.

The service begins at 2pm.All those attending must have tickets which can be obtained free by registering at the Kent centenary site.

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