Royal British Legion members to represent Banburyshire at Great Pilgrimage anniversary events

MHBG-08-11-12 Poppy Appeal 'Chris Smithson,chairman of RBL and Poppy Appeal and Kerrylee  Luke, Sgt instructor for Banbury Jordan Army Cadet Force ENGNNL00120120311113322
MHBG-08-11-12 Poppy Appeal 'Chris Smithson,chairman of RBL and Poppy Appeal and Kerrylee Luke, Sgt instructor for Banbury Jordan Army Cadet Force ENGNNL00120120311113322

Banburyshire members of the Royal British Legion will join thousands travelling this weekend to recall a pilgrimage ten years after the end of the First World War.

The Great Pilgrimage 90 (GP90) marks 90 years since the original Royal British Legion pilgrimage in 1928 when 11,000 WWI veterans and war widows visited battlefields and marched through Ypres to the Menin Gate.

Branches including Banbury, Shipston, Byfield and Chipping Norton will have members among the thousands of other Legion representatives and dignitaries, including civic and military guests from the UK, Commonwealth and Europe, going out from August 5 to 9.

Shipston chairman Richard Adams 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 Shipston branch looks forward to proudly representing Shipston at the event.”

Banbury branch chairman Chris Smithson and Don Claridge will be attending along with standard bearer Phil Potter and Chloe Wells from Shipston, Byfield standard bearer Chris Kiely, and Chipping Norton chairman Steve Kingsford and standard bearer Tjark Andrews.

They 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 standards and wreaths.

Mr Kingsford said: “It’s quite a honour for me as my grandfather fought there and much of his time in the war was spent in and around Ypres.”

GP90 is set to be one of the largest events in the Royal British Legion’s history – the 1928 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.

The public is invited to the join the Royal British Legion members in Ypres for the ceremony and afternoon performance of the charity’s band. To find out more, visit www.britishlegion.org.uk.