WADE'S WORLD: Pilgrimage to honour the war dead

IMPOSING: The Menin Gate memorial

IMPOSING: The Menin Gate memorial

First published in News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

THE 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War has encouraged huge interest in the Great War. Perhaps the greatest spur for this interest is the urge to find out about relatives who died in the conflict and to visit their final resting place.

When researching features for the South Wales Argus supplement on the war published last week, a constant theme when talking to relatives of the fallen was their travels to war graves and their research to find out the stories behind them.

Many went the Flanders, where the majority of the British dead are buried. At the Menin Gate, many men from the Monmouthshire Regiment are remembered. Their blackest day, May 8th, came during the Second Battle of Ypres when hundreds of men were killed or injured. Many of their names are inscribed on Panel 50 of the vast memorial.

Some memorials like this one, are large and imposing. Others are more modest. The 1st Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment is remembered by an inscribed a light grey limestone block near Ypres at the edge of the field where the battle took place and so many died.

A good guide to finding where the war graves of Newport servicemen are is the website by local military historian, Shaun Macguire (newportsdead.shaunmcguire.co.uk) the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website cwgc.org is also a vital tool when researching where to go.

The Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries I always find very moving. The well-tended lawns around the crisp white graves made of Portland stone stand as if on parade – at attention and in ranks. The regimental crests always neatly carved.

While many make the cross-channel journey to Belgium and Northern France, others must go further afield to pay their respects. Gwent's fallen lie in Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Palestine and elsewhere.

I hope to go to the cemetery at Gallipoli in Turkey as my great-grandfather, although not killed, was badly injured while serving with the Royal Navy during the Battle of the Dardanelles.

Walking round the cemetery, I ‘d give thanks for his survival and a silent prayer of thanks to those who did not.

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