‘It was emotional from start to finish’: Diss represented at remembrance pilgrimage
PUBLISHED: 11:38 21 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:58 21 August 2018
Members of the Diss branch of the Royal British Legion joined thousands on a pilgrimage of remembrance to a First World War battlefield, which culminated in a parade and ceremony in Belgium.
The Great Pilgrimage 90 (GP90), which took place from August 5-9 and was one of the largest in the charity’s history, was a recreation of the 1928 pilgrimage organised by the British Legion (as it was then known)
GP90 marked 90 years since the original event that saw 11,000 First World War veterans and war widows visit the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres before marching to the Menin Gate in Ypres on 8 August 1928.
Legion members Lynne and Mike Garnham represented the Diss and District branch of the Royal British Legion and the local community at the event, as standard bearer and wreath layer.
They joined other legion members on two coaches that travelled from Norwich and joined a tour of monuments, battlefields, cemeteries and Ypres Salient, the main area of operations for British and Commonwealth Armies where more than 250,000 soldiers died.
Mrs Garnham said: “We visited the Somme the most iconic of battlefields at that time where there were 57,000 killed on the first day of the battle alone.”
The main GP90 parade and ceremony featured 1,100 standard bearers and wreath layers, amongst more than 2,200 other RBL representatives and dignitaries, including civic and military guests from the UK, Commonwealth and northern Europe present.
All of the wreaths bore messages from local communities. The one from Diss and District was written by nine-year-old Roydon Primary School pupil Sam Hines when he was aged seven and is based on the word ‘Remember’.
Mrs Garnham said: “The march followed the route taken by the 11,000 pilgrims made up of wounded veterans and relatives who on the exact date in 1928 had visited to see where and pay their respects to comrades and relatives who had been killed.
“This route had also been taken by half a million soldiers during the First World War as they marched from the railway station through the Market Place passing the spot where the Menin Gate now stands heading for the front line, many never to return.
“It was an emotional and inspiring journey from start to finish.”