The tour/talk went to the site of the '1914 Christmas Truce', through the 'Hyde Park Corner cemetery', a look at some preserved trenches and into the Tyne Cot Cemetery, said to be the largest in the world with over 12,000 troops buried there. Gary was also visited the Menin Gate, with it's 1000s of names inscribed through the archway. This happened to be at dusk on the day we visited. Every day a trumpeter plays 'The Last Post' at this time, but then he went on to play 'The Londonderry Aire' - it was a VERY emotional moment to Gary and the other members of the tour. Especially, as Gary said, 'everywhere you looked, there were Irish family names carved into the stone'. Ypres town also held a surprise, with it's huge 'Cloth workers Hall' and 'St. Georges Chapel' built in honour of the fallen of the UK and Ireland.
The end of the tour took Gary to the Somme, with it's huge cemeteries and monuments to the fallen - the 16th Irish Regiment, the Thiepval memorial, the American Cemetery and the Ulster Tower - to name but a few.
There was a very short question and answer session before the President asked Cecil Spotten to propose a vote of thanks. Cecil spoke for all the members when he congratulated Gary on his especially interesting talk with such excellent photos, the captured the sadness of what we had seen and the huge scale of the slaughter that was the First World War. The thanks were passed on by the President and members showed their appreciation.
*NOTE: We have tried to capture the essence of the talk Gary gave in a slide show of picture taken from the Internet. If you wish to see this, 'click here'
**Historical Note: The official statistics for the numbers of UK and Ireland service men and auxiliaries ‘killed or missing in action’ for the 1914-18 war are between 826,746 and 1,012,075. In addition there are 1,663,435 (Army) and 5,135 (Navy) officers and men recorded as ‘wounded or injured’ in the conflict.
Mike Turner, Club Admin.