Ballynahinch duo to take part in WW1 pilgrimage

Ballynahinch duo to take part in WW1 pilgrimage

18 July 2018

NINETY years after the Royal British Legion first took World War One veterans and war widows to French and Belgian battlefields, a Ballynahinch couple will take part in a pilgrimage of remembrance.

Graeme Wonders and his wife, Paula, will represent the Ballynahinch RBL Branch and the local community as standard bearer and wreath layer respectively at the Great Pilgrimage 90 (GP90) on August 5-9.

The couple will join thousands on a pilgrimage of Remembrance to WW1 battlefield that culminates in a parade and ceremony in Ypres as part of the end of the First World War centenary commemorations.

The RBL event will be one of the largest in the charity’s history.

It marks 90 years since the original RBL 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.

Graeme and Paula 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 the August 8, bearing their branch standard and a wreath.

Once at the Menin Gate, Paula will lay a wreath on behalf of the Ballynahinch community.  

“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 Ballynahinch Branch looks forward to proudly representing Ballynahinch at the event,” said Geoff Cole of the Ballynahinch RBL.

As local champions of Remembrance, the Ballynahinch RBL Branch is looking to work in partnership with the 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.

A local parade will start at midday in Ballynahinch on Wednesday, August 8, and the community are asked to come to the Market Square to watch the parade, One Hundred Days ceremony and then enjoy an afternoon of musical entertainment including the Central Band of the Royal British Legion.