Legion members to attend WWI ceremony

Members of the North Northumberland branch of The Royal British Legion are to join thousands on a pilgrimage of Remembrance to a First World War battlefield.

Friday, 27th July 2018, 7:00 am
Rob Porteous

The Royal British Legion event, known as Great Pilgrimage 90 (GP90), takes place between August 5 and 9, and culminates in a parade and ceremony in Ypres as part of the end-of-war centenary commemorations.

GP90 will mark 90 years since the original Royal British Legion Pilgrimage in 1928, which saw 11,000 First World War veterans and war widows visit the battlefields of the Somme in France and Ypres in Belgium, a decade after the conflict ended.

Michael Stewart

That pilgrimage culminated in a march through Ypres to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Menin Gate Memorial for a ceremony to commemorate the launch of The Hundred Days Offensive and in remembrance of those who never returned.

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Local Legion members, Rob Porteous and Michael Stewart, will represent the North Northumberland branch and the local community at the event, as standard bearer and wreath layer respectively.

Rob and Michael will tour some of the same battlefields and cemeteries visited by those on the 1928 Pilgrimage, before marching along the original route through Ypres to the Menin Gate on August 8, bearing their branch standard and a wreath.

They will join more than 2,200 other Legion representatives and dignitaries, including civic and military guests from the UK, Commonwealth and Northern Europe who are taking part.

Once at the Menin Gate, Michael will lay a wreath on behalf of the north Northumberland community.

The event will be one of the largest in the charity’s history.

Tom Fairfax, of the North Northumberland branch, said: “Great Pilgrimage 90 is a unique opportunity for the Legion community to come together and bear our standards along the same route in Ypres taken 90 years earlier by the veterans and widows of the First World War.

“The North Northumberland branch looks forward to proudly representing our area at the event.”

As local champions of Remembrance, the branch is looking to work in partnership with thecommunity to bring its Remembrance message to the Menin Gate, on its wreath, where it will be displayed in a wreath installation for viewing by the general public until the end of August.

The parade will start at midday and members of the public are being encouraged to make the trip across to Ypres for August 8,and fill the Market Square to watch the parade, One Hundred Days ceremony and then enjoy an afternoon of musical entertainment including The Central Band of the Royal British Legion.

If you want to find out more about GP90 or your local Royal British Legion branch, contact NorthNorthumberland.ViceChairman@rbl.community

l The annual Minden Day parade in Berwick, commemorating the King’s Own Scottish Borderers’ participation in the Battle of Minden in 1759, takes place on Saturday. It starts at 10am on the Barracks Square, with bands, regular soldiers and veterans parading through the town.