Remembering the BEF in Arras today: Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery & Arras Flying Services Memorial (Photo: Joanna Legg)

Western Front Association day of Centenary commemorations in France for the BEF

Posted on on 13 August 2014
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The Western Front Association is holding a series of events in France today (August 13th 2014) to mark the first arrivals of British troops 100 years ago.

The tributes are the culmination of four days of remembrance which started with the departure of more than 80 poppy wreaths from Wellington Barracks in London.

This morning, there will be a flypast in memory of the first Royal Flying Corps squadrons to arrive in France following the outbreak of the First World War.

A replica BE-2c aircraft, accompanied by planes from the De Havilland Tiger Moth Club, will fly over Amiens.

A highlight of the ceremony will be a celebration of the life of Major Hubert Dunsterville Harvey-Kelly DSO of the Royal Flying Corps. 

Affectionately known as 'Bay', Harvey-Kelly was the first British pilot to land on French soil in 1914 after war broke out.

In the words of a fellow pilot, he was “the most likeable of men, famous for his great sense of humour, a noted individualist”. 

Major Harvey-Kelly was shot down and killed on April 29th 1917 by Kurt Wolff of the Red Baron's "Flying Circus".

A centrepiece of the Amiens service will be an act of friendship and reconciliation between an airman from today's German airforce and relatives of Hubert Harvey-Kelly.

Sunday August 10th: the BEF poppy wreaths prepare to leave London 

This afternoon, Western Front Association members and guests gather for a remembrance service in Arras honouring the professional soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) who fought in the UK's opening campaign of the war.

The 85 wreaths which left Wellington Barracks in convoy on August 10th 2014 will be laid during the service at Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery and Arras Flying Service Memorial in Arras.

They reflect 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.

Full details of the day's events can be found here.

Source: Western Front Association

Images courtesy of Joanna Legg, Western Front Association; Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News