Bennetts Funeral Directors of Brentwood, Essex – Tony Motley’s trip to Ieper (Ypres) June 2012
I spent a few days holiday in Ieper (Ypres) which was an important area in the First World War. Both my grandfathers saw heavy action in the area. I met up with a member of the Ypres RBL and was invited to a branch meeting, myself being a UK based member of both Somme and Ypres Branches in addition to Billericay. During the meeting the Chairman invited me to be the Standard Bearer on both the Jubilee Thanksgiving Service at St Georges Chapel and then later at the Last Post Parade at The Menin Gate. A Real Honour!
At the church service the Union Flag and Branch Standard were presented to the Vicar who placed them on the altar, later, they were collected to be used for us to perform the Royal Salute during the National Anthem.
On the evening parade, the Union Flag led the procession, followed by the Branch Standard flanked by two others, then a contingent of Standards of Belgian Military Associations, a large party of Veterans and finally, the Band.
The parade marched through the historical cobbled streets to The Menin Gate, where, at 8pm every evening members of the local Fire Brigade play the ‘Last Post’, and then Poppy Wreaths are laid by visiting Veterans.
As the parade reached The Menin Gate, the Band played ‘Tipperary’ and the Veterans, plus many of the large audience joined in singing the old familiar words, just as the troops did nearly a hundred years ago as they marched off to their next battle. A very emotional moment.
Later the Chairman extended an invitation to me to return to carry the Union Flag next time!
By Tony Motley
Bennetts Funeral Directors