Royal British Legion members on pilgrimage of remembrance

The Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres
The Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres

Two members of the Castledawson and District branch of the Royal British Legion are to join thousands on a pilgrimage of Remembrance to World War One battlefield that culminates in a parade and ceremony in Ypres as part of the end of the First World War centenary commemorations.

The Royal British Legion event, known as Great Pilgrimage 90 (GP90), takes place between August 5-9 and will be one of the largest in the charity’s history.

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

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.

Local Legion members, Wesley Gilmour and Sam Hudson will represent the Castledawson and District Branch and the local community at the event, as Standard Bearer and wreath layer respectively.

Wesley and Sam 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, Sam will lay a wreath on behalf of the Castledawson and District community.

Sam Hudson, Chairman of the Castledawson and District Branch of the Royal British Legion, 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 Castledawson and District Branch looks forward to proudly representing Castledawson and District at the event.”

As local champions of Remembrance, the Castledawson and District Branch is looking to work in partnership with their community to bring their unique Remembrance message to the Menin Gate, on their wreath, where it will be displayed in a wreath installation for viewing by the general public until the end of August.