Some 2,200 Britons, including members of the Royal British Legion, will be in Ypres on Wednesday to commemorate the end of World War I and the 90th anniversary of the Great Pilgrimage organized by the British in 1928 to European battlefields. The 8th of August was the day, one century ago, that the British defeated the Germans near Amiens, France. About one month before that, following the end of the German Spring Offensive in June 1918, the second battle of the Marne – in July – had marked a turning point in the war. The 8th of August, described by General Erich Ludendorff as a black day for the German army, also marked the start of the so-called ‘100-day offensive’ which ended on 11 November.
Some 10 years later, the Royal British Legion organised the Great Pilgrimage, which saw about 11,000 British war veterans, war widows and family members cross the English Channel to the battlefields of the Somme and the Ypres Salient. The highpoint of this pilgrimage was the march across the city of Ypres to the new Menin Gate on the 8th of August.
This event will be commemorated on Wednesday. At midday, members of the Royal British Legion will gather near the Cloth Hall. Bearing 1,100 flags representing the 11,000 pilgrims of 1928, they will then march to the Menin Gate where a commemorative service will be held at 1 p.m., and 1,100 wreaths will be laid.
Various activities will be organized in the afternoon at the city’s main square, the Grand-Place d’Ypres.