Royal British Legion members proud to represent Banburyshire in Belgium

(L-R) Banbury Royal British Legion members Don Claridge and Chris Smithson, with Chipping Norton branch members Tjark Andrews and Steve Kingsford NNL-180814-113744001
(L-R) Banbury Royal British Legion members Don Claridge and Chris Smithson, with Chipping Norton branch members Tjark Andrews and Steve Kingsford NNL-180814-113744001

Royal British Legion members represented Banburyshire in Belgium at the organisation’s biggest ever event last week.

Great Pilgrimage 90 marked the anniversary of 11,000 veterans and widowed families visiting First World War battlefields in 1928.

Representatives from Banbury, Chipping Norton, Shipston and Byfield joined thousands of others for the tour and ceremony in Ypres on August 8.

Standard bearers marched through the town to the Menin Gate before a service and wreath-laying.

Chipping Norton branch chairman Steve Kingsford said they were all extremely proud to be part of the event.

“Tjark Andrews, our standard bearer, and myself had the honour of representing Chipping Norton and our branch at this incredible occasion,” he said.

“It was particularly poignant for me as my grandfather had served in Ypres as a machine gunner and his stories about his time there laid the foundations of what I do now.”

In 1928, ten years after the 100 Days Offensive that would end the First World War, the British Legion took over 11,000 veterans and their families and relatives of the fallen on a battlefield pilgrimage.

This culminated in a march to the Menin Gate in Ypres, the scene of fierce fighting throughout the war.

Ninety years later over 2,200 members of the Royal British Legion retraced their steps to remember that generation who served, sacrificed and endured that most terrible conflicts.