A group of six, ex-service and Royal British Legion members will represent Guernsey at the Great Pilgrimage 90 to remember those who fought and lost their lives in World War I.

In 1928, a decade after the end of WWI, the British Legion (as it was then known) organised for 11,000 veterans and war widows to visit the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres before marching to the Menin Gate. Exactly 90 years later wreath and Standard bearers will march through the famous Menin Gate in Ypres to commemorate the Last 100 Days of WWI.

The group and their wives who each have connections with the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry (RGLI), will join thousands of other Royal British Legion representatives, those from other Legions and members of the public at this tour of battlefields, memorials and cemeteries including Lys, which was the frontline for the RGLI, where they suffered heavy losses.

Organiser Paddy Craig joined the army as a boy at 16, he spent the first five years serving for the Royal Irish Rangers, whose forefathers were the Royal Irish Regiment who fought along-side their colleagues in the RGLI during WWI, he then served a further 12 years with The Royal Engineers. Mr Craig said, “It is my duty to respect the memory of these gallant men that fought and died in defence of the realm. We are proud to be representing the Guernsey branch of the Royal British Legion and the RGLI, which has been made possible thanks to the support of Blue Islands.”

Nathan Thomas, who has been involved in the RGLI memorial parades, including taking the Standard to the memorial at Les Rue Vertes in Masniere last year added, “During the pilgrimage I will be particularly thinking of my family members who served during WWI, this includes the De Carteret members of my family who served with the Royal Irish Regiment.”

Rob Veron, Blue Islands CEO said, “There were many from Guernsey who sacrificed so much in WWI through the RGLI and with assignments to other British Army regiments. All of the team here at Blue Islands are proud to ensure our Channel Islands are represented at the Great Pilgrimage 90 remembrance ceremony.”

Great Pilgrimage 90 will be the Royal British Legion’s biggest event in modern history. The group also includes:

  • Geoff Browning, also served with The Royal Engineers and has been involved in local parades for over 20 years. Geoff hopes to locate some of the memorials of those listed on the Grammar School’s Roll of Honour Board which commemorates those from Guernsey who fell in WWI.
  • Rob Grant who served with 1st Battalion Royal Hampshire Regiment which saw extensive service in WWI, fighting at all the major battles and whose Grandfather also fought in WWI. Rob is travelling with his wife Zoe, whose forefathers died in WWI.
  • Andrew Henton is an expert on the history of the RGLI and is involved with RGLI re-enactments and the Guernsey Military Vehicle Group.