Trip of a lifetime for Sidmouth legion members to attend memorial parade in Belgium

Terry Paltridge and John Hayes after the parade at the Menin Gate. Picture: Contributed

Terry Paltridge and John Hayes after the parade at the Menin Gate. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

It was a ‘trip of a lifetime’ for members of Sidmouth’s Royal British Legion as they joined thousands of representatives on a special anniversary parade in Belgium.

John Hayes and Terry Paltridge represented the branch at the four day event which commemorated 100 years since the end of the First World War.

During the four day event, the pair visited a number of battlefields and cemeteries before taking part in a march to Ypres’s Menin Gate.

John carried the branch’s standard and Terry laid a wreath to remember fallen soldiers alongside 1,173 wreath layers from across the country.

The event also marked 90 years since the legion’s first great pilgrimage to the country to remember those who fought during the conflict.

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Mr Hayes said: “Going over to France and Belgium to visit the cemetery’s and memorials of the soldiers that gave there lives for their country was an experience that Terry and I will never forget. You could be driving round on the roads and you would see a cemetery in the middle of a farmers field and they were so well kept.

“As we stood for the two minutes’ silence thousands of poppy leaves drifted down from the roof over the standard bearers. When the played our national anthem we all started to sing God Save The Queen and I felt privileged and honoured to be there to honour the soldiers that didn’t make it home.

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“When we marched back to our assembly point and out of the square we started to sing song like Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bags.

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