Members of Hampshire Branches of The Royal British Legion joined thousands of Armed Forces veterans and supporters from across the UK and worldwide in a pilgrimage of remembrance to some of WW1’s most poignant sites.
A spectacular two-mile march through Ypres to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Menin Gate Memorial, led by 1,100 Standard Bearers, was the culmination of the three day event which saw the 2,200 participants visit the WW1 trenches, battlefields and cemeteries of France and Belgium.
Leslie Bailey and Pete Habbershaw attended the Great Pilgrimage 90 as representatives of Hampshire County, as Standard Bearer and wreath layer respectively.
Hampshire County Chairman Tim Russell who attended as wreath layer for Old Basing branch said “Being part of such an historic event, representing the RBL in commemorating those that lost their lives in the First World War, was an honour and something I will never forget.”
Bob Gamble, The Royal British Legion’s Head of Commemorative Events, said: “GP90, was the Legion’s biggest membership event in modern history and is a suitable tribute from the members of The Royal British Legion in honour of the First World War generation, echoing the way the British Legion community commemorated the 10th anniversary of the conflict in 1928.”
The trip took in many of the French and Belgian war cemeteries so many attendees were able to place tributes on the graves of veterans buried at Ypres who are remembered on their local War memorials.
Hampshire was well represented with 25 of our 62 branches attending this spectacular and moving event including Andover, Droxford, Eastleigh and Chandler's Ford, Farnborough, Fleet and Crookham, Kingsclere, Lee-on-the-Solent, Lovedean and Horndean, Lymington, Odiham, Old Basing, Portsmouth South, Southampton, Totton and Eling and Yateley branches to name but a few.
The parade marched around Ypres to the Menin Gate memorial following the same route taken by the veterans in 1928 and then took part in the 100 days ceremony. The Battle of Amiens being the final, decisive battle that marked the start of the final one hundred days of WW1.
All wreaths that were laid can be viewed here