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‘It was emotional from start to finish’: Diss represented at remembrance pilgrimage

PUBLISHED: 11:38 21 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:58 21 August 2018

Diss and Distict Royal British Legion standard bearer Mike Garnham who attened the Great Pilgrimage 90. Picture: Lynne Garnham

Diss and Distict Royal British Legion standard bearer Mike Garnham who attened the Great Pilgrimage 90. Picture: Lynne Garnham

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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.

Great Pilgrimage 90 parade attened by more than 2,000 Legion members was a recreation of the 1928 pilgrimage. Picture: Mike and Lynne GarnhamGreat Pilgrimage 90 parade attened by more than 2,000 Legion members was a recreation of the 1928 pilgrimage. Picture: Mike and Lynne Garnham

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.

Diss and Distict Royal British Legion standard bearer and wreath layer Mike and Lynne Garnham who attened the Great Pilgrimage 90. Picture: Mike and Lynne GarnhamDiss and Distict Royal British Legion standard bearer and wreath layer Mike and Lynne Garnham who attened the Great Pilgrimage 90. Picture: Mike and Lynne Garnham

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.

Some 1,100 wreaths were laid as part of the Great Pilgrimage 90 including one from Diss. Picture: Mike and Lynne GarnhamSome 1,100 wreaths were laid as part of the Great Pilgrimage 90 including one from Diss. Picture: Mike and Lynne Garnham

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.

The message written by Roydon Primary School pupil Sam Hines on the Diss wreath. Picture: Lynne and Mike GarnhamThe message written by Roydon Primary School pupil Sam Hines on the Diss wreath. Picture: Lynne and Mike Garnham

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.

The Diss and District standard and wreath completw with message by Roydon Primary School pupil Sam Hines. Picture: Lynne and Mike GarnhamThe Diss and District standard and wreath completw with message by Roydon Primary School pupil Sam Hines. Picture: Lynne and Mike Garnham

“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.”

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