Trip to WW1 battlefields is ‘humbling and emotional’ experience

Pictured (l-r) laying a wreath at the Menin Gate are David Hunter, Glenn Hinchey and Dennis Murray. INNT 14-505CON
Pictured (l-r) laying a wreath at the Menin Gate are David Hunter, Glenn Hinchey and Dennis Murray. INNT 14-505CON

Members of the 16th Newtownabbey Boys’ Brigade Company travelled to The Somme and Flanders Fields recently to remember the fallen soldiers of The Great War.

The group of six leaders and two boys from the Belfast City Mission BB Company in Rathcoole laid a poppy wreath at the Menin Gate, Ypres in memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the 1914 - 1918 conflict.

The group visited the First World War 'execution cells' at Poperinge, Belgium. INNT 14-507CON

The group visited the First World War 'execution cells' at Poperinge, Belgium. INNT 14-507CON

The group set off on March 26, and their five-day trip included four days visiting a range of historic sites in France and Belgium.

Their stop-offs in France included The Somme battlefields, the Ulster Tower, Thiepval Memorial and the 16th Irish Division Memorial at Guillemont. And in Belgium they took in Lone Tree Cemetery, the Pool of Peace, the German war cemetery of Langemark, Island of Ireland Peace Park, In Flanders Fields Museum and the ‘execution cells’ and Talbot House in Poperinge. They also visited the graves of a number of 16th Irish and 36th Ulster Division soldiers.

Members of the group joined ex-servicemen a wreath laying ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres to commemorate the war dead - an experience described by Jim Holmes, 16th Newtownabbey’s Lieutenant in Charge of Company Section, as “very humbling and emotional.”

“On Tuesday night we had the privilege of marching and laying a poppy wreath at the Menin Gate, Ypres on behalf of the 16th Newtownabbey Boys’ Brigade Company to remember fallen soldiers of The Great War,” Mr Holmes explained.

Putting poppy petals from the service of remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall into the Pool of Peace at Messines. INNT 14-506CON

Putting poppy petals from the service of remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall into the Pool of Peace at Messines. INNT 14-506CON

“It was a great honour to share the experience with my fellow officers and two of the boys from the Company.

“For four days we visited memorials and battle sites around the Somme and Belgium. The whole experience was very humbling and made me very proud of those who sacrificed themselves for our freedom,” he added.