THE proud son of a World War I soldier is to follow in his father’s footsteps when he joins GP90 – The 90th anniversary of The Great Pilgrimage of 1928 to the battlefields of the Western Front.
Philip Jarvis, who was born and bred in Redditch, is the chairman of the town’s Royal British Legion branch and his journey is being recorded for posterity by camera crews and the national press.
He’ll be one of more than 3,000 members of the RBL attending the event which leaves the UK on Sunday, August 5, in preparation for a march on August 8 from the Market Square in Ypres in Belgium to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Menin Gate Memorial.
“There’s been a lot of media interest because I think I am the only one whose father, Kenneth Baylis Jarvis, fought in the war, at the Battle of the Somme, and went on the march of 1928,” said the 70-year-old.
The historic event will be all the more poignant for the Webheath resident as he will also visit the grave of his Uncle Philip who was killed in action in October 1917, aged just 21.
“I will be following in my father’s footsteps; he made enquiries about my uncle’s grave – his brother – in 1927 and was invited and went on The Great Pilgrimage of 1928 and visited the place where he is buried,” said Philip.
The Great Pilgrimage of 1928 was organised by the then British Legion to take more than 11,000 First world War veterans and war widows back to the battlefields of northern France and Flanders, culminating in a parade and ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial, which stands on the route thousands of soldiers took to their deaths in the maelstrom of war.
August 8 also marks the centenary of the start of the ‘100 Day Offensive’ which brought about the end of the war on November 11, 1918.
“I will be laying a wreath at the Menin Gate on behalf of Redditch Royal British Legion,” said Philip.
“It will contain a note written by one of the pupils of St Stephen’s School, the school my father attended in 1905 when it was in Archer Road.”