WFA Trustee Richard Hughes reads a prayer in memory of the British Expeditionary Force

Western Front Association remembers first British troops sent to France in 1914

Posted on on 10 August 2014
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The Western Front Association has launched a series of commemorative journeys marking the Centenary of the first British troops leaving for France in 1914.

In torrential rain, WFA members gathered near Buckingham Palace today (August 10th 2014) for a brief ceremony to remember the deployment of the British Expeditionary Force at the start of the First World War.

More than 80 poppy wreaths, reflecting each of the land and air units that made up the BEF in August 1914, together with wreaths representing the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy, arrived at Wellington Barracks on a horse drawn army wagon. 

Soldiers lifted them onto a veteran Crossley Light Tender and trailer for the start of their journey from London, through Kent and across the Channel, to Arras in Northern France.

Motorcyclists and aircraft, including a replica First World War BE-2c, will also be playing their part in four days of WFA commemorations in Southern England and France.

The programme culminates on August 13th with a remembrance service and flypast at the Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery and Arras Flying Service Memorial in Arras.

Richard Hughes, a Trustee of the Western Front Association, told Centenary News: "We think it's very important that today remembers the professional army of 1914. Those would have been the regular soldiers and the reservists who came back to the colours when the war started.

"The Western Front Association are very concerned that there is quite a lot of bad history around, and we are concerned that the next four years will see that history repeated.

"There will be so much I think about the conscript army and the volunteer army but we think it's very important that we remember those first soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force who went out to France and who took so many terrible casualties." 

Based on the British Order of Battle in the deployment of the BEF for August 1914, over 80 regiments and corps have been identified for representation by a poppy wreath, together with Royal Navy and Merchant Navy representative wreaths.

Each wreath carries the badge of the relevant unit as its centrepiece, together with a card 'In Remembrance' of the occasion from the President and all members of the Western Front Association

Full details of the WFA's commemorations for the BEF from August 10-13th can be found here.

Source: Western Front Association

Images: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News