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March Through Ypres Commemorates 100 Years Since End Of WWI

More than 2000 members of the Royal British Legion have marched through Ypres to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War One.

More than 2,000 members of the Royal British Legion (RBL) have marched through Ypres to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War.

The two-mile route to the Menin Gate Memorial - dedicated to fallen soldiers from the war - aimed to recreate the 'Great Pilgrimage' of 1929, which marked 10 years of the conflict's end.

Back in 1928, 11,000 veterans and war widows toured battlefields before marching through the town.

Ypres, in the north-west of Belgium, was nearly obliterated in the Great War. 

1100 wreaths were laid at Menin Gate (Picture: Royal British Legion).
11,000 wreaths, representing those from 1928, were laid by the members of the RBL at Menin Gate carrying messages from school children (Picture: Royal British Legion).

The Former Chief of the Defence Staff, General Lord Richards, said: "We're all a little bit jaundiced about our politicians. You know there's populism out there.

"This brings us back to things that really matter and I think it's a very powerful, emotional and hopefully practical signal to ourselves that actually all this is going on around us but we're okay at heart because people will still come out on occasions like this, the Belgian population have been magnificent, the people of Ypres I can't tell you how kind they've been.

"That's what really matters and we need to tap into that and remember it a little bit more.”

2200 RBL members marched through the town.
2,200 RBL members marched through the town (Picture: Royal British Legion).

Among those marching through Ypres are recent conflict veterans with one carrying his great-grandfather's medal from the Great War. 

He told Forces News that he was "incredibly proud" and that he was "quite emotional" to be walking down the same road his great-grandfather once did.

The original pilgrimage also involved an Archbishop of York, with today's successor Most Reverend Doctor John Sentemu making the journey to Ypres for the occasion.

A special service was held at Menin Gate (Picture: Royal British Legion).
A special service was held at Menin Gate (Picture: Royal British Legion).

Speaking to Forces News, he said: “I remember going to Helmand Province and actually seeing British soldiers lying side by side with Taliban who'd been injured and the doctors treating all those people equally.

"I don't think there's an armed forces in the world like that.

"And I said to myself 'I'm actually very proud' that the medical corps who are part of the Army, are doing a fantastic job, never discriminating against who's injured but also the soldiers are very professional in what they are doing, so they are a force for good.

"It will be a very sad day when people don't realise people are willing to sacrifice their lives for peace for justice, for stopping evil, to me they are the heroes.”

The march took place on 8 August, the date which marks the beginning of 'The Hundred Days Offensive' which led to the end of the First World War.