Longridge’s emotional tribute to its war dead

At Canada Farm by the grave of Gunner Richard Wallbank who was a member of Longridge Band.
At Canada Farm by the grave of Gunner Richard Wallbank who was a member of Longridge Band.

The remembrance road to Ypres and back was a poignant one for Longridge Band.

Just before the town’s own special observances, they visited Belgium’s First World War sites where the names of fallen relatives and former band members are recorded.

At Canada Farm Cemetery, band vice president Derek Hicks laid a wreath for gunner and ex bandsman Richard Wallbank of Mersey Street.

At Tyne Cot, Longridge lads Robert Almond and John Sharples were remembered, and Janet Clegg played for her great grandfather, Richard Moon, at Beacon Cemetery.

Secretary Fred Little said: “It was a very emotional and engrossing experience for us all. Playing at the monuments and gravesides was very special and something we will never forget, remembering the sacrifices made by soldiers on the battlefields.”

The group visited many of the WWI cemeteries, museums and battlefields in Ypres, Arras and the Somme.

Playing at the monuments and gravesides was very special and something we will never forget, remembering the sacrifices made by soldiers on the battlefields

Fred Little

Janet Clegg said: “One of the most poignant moments of the trip was when the band played the Last Post and Reveille for Richard Wallbank.”

Original trenches and tunnels were visited at Sanctuary Wood, younger members of the group explored tunnels and dug-outs, the dressing station where Canadian poet of ‘In Flanders Fields”, John McCrae worked as a medic, and Langemark, the 25,000 mass grave German cemetery, were also visited.

At Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world, the band played hymns for the Longridge lads John Sharples - possibly a band member - and Robert Almond and as part of the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, the band played hymns to a very large gathering from all corners of the globe paying their respects and watching the laying of wreaths.

As well as visiting Lochnagar Crater and Thiepval Memorial, the band played at Beacon Cemetery before going to the Arras region and the French cemetery Notre-Dame de Lorette, taking in also the impressive Wellington Tunnels.

Longridge Band at the Thiepval Memorial

Longridge Band at the Thiepval Memorial

Janet adds “Our final marks of respect were made at the thought-provoking Canadian Vimy Memorial Park; hymns and the Last Post were played for the final time at this memorial, where young and old walked in the footsteps of our ancestors in the original trenches.”

The local fallen: Longridge Ypres – Menin Gate Memorial-Tk Dvr Lance Corporal Arthur Parkinson died 31st July 1917 (Age 28) son of Thomas & Sarah Parkinson 47 Berry Lane. Tyne Cot Cemetery -Lance Corporal Robert Almond died 26th October 1917, Pte William Gornall died 26th October 1917, Pte James Smith died 29th April 1918, John Sharples died 26th October 1917 - thought to be a member of the band. Thiepval Memorial: Pte John Lawrence Bleasdale, Pte Percy Thomas Bourn, Pte John Cowell, Cpl Albert Hartley, Pte Richard Hoyle, Pte Joseph Ogden, Pte J Moncur, Lance Corporal Christopher Seed, Sgt Arthur Seed, Cpl Hugh Seed, Cpl Walter Sharples, Pte Thomas Wallbank, Pte George Willan.

The band members placed crosses at the graves of the fallen from Longridge

The band members placed crosses at the graves of the fallen from Longridge