Councillors lay wreath in France as WWI dead remembered

Published: 19 Jul 2012 13:000 comments

FERMANAGH District Councillors, Cyril Brownlee and Rosemary Barton journeyed to the World War One battlefields of Northern France and Belgium recently to take part in a pilgrimage.

Fermanagh District Councillors, Cyril Brownlee and Rosemary Barton laid a wreath during a World War One Remembrance Ceremony at the Ulster Tower, France earlier this month.

According to the DUP's Mr Brownlee, the "moving experience" afforded a "better appreciation and insight into our history when men from all over the Commonwealth and Ireland fought and died so that we might have freedom".

Along with Mrs Barton, UUP, the first full day in Belgium included visits to 16th Irish Division Memorial, Spanbroekmolen Mine Crater, Tyne Cot Cemetery Memorial and Visitor Centre and the beautiful city of Ypress which was completely destroyed in the war.

There, every evening of the year at 8pm at the city's Menin Gate, traffic stops and the local Fire Authority conduct the Last Post and Reveille remembrance ceremony.

The Menin Gate has inscribed on its arches 54,896 names of those who died between 1914 and August 15, 1917 who have no known grave.

The second day included a visit to the Australian Memorial at Villers Bretonneux, a guided tour of the trenches at Thiepval Wood and various other locations.

But according to Mr Brownlee, the highlight of the trip was the ceremonies on July 1.

The first was the Commonwealth Ceremony, attended by Northern Ireland Secretary of State Mr Owen Patterson MP and Mr Jonathan Bell MLA Junior Minister at Stormont at Thiepval Tower which has some 73,367 names of soldiers who have no known grave.

The Pilgrimage then travelled a short journey to the Ulster Tower for lunch after which a Service of Remembrance and wreath laying ceremony was held when both local councillors laid a wreath on behalf of Fermanagh District Council.

Afterwards a short service of Remembrance was held at the Orange Institution Memorial in the grounds of the Ulster Tower and then to the 16th Irish Division Memorial at Guillemont for a short service and wreath laying ceremony.

"It is important that we commemorate so many young lives lost in World War One," added Mr Brownlee.

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