On the 20th October 2018, the Archbishop Beck Pals (5 Officers and 39 enlisted men and women) took the King’s shilling and went on active service.
After an early start we travelled from Liverpool to Folkestone, picking up our guide Mike on the way. We arrived in Ypres and settled into our hotel. Green soup was the order of the day for starters! Many of the PALs would have been grateful for some bully beef and a parcel from home. After bedding down for the night, an early start, breakfast and a tour of Ypres awaited.
21st October We travelled firstly to Essex Farm Dressing Station which served as a hospital for the soldiers wounded on the Western Front. Here we found the grave of Valentine Joe Strudwick who, at the age of 15 years 11 months, was the youngest registered British soldier killed.
After visiting Essex Farm the group had a moment of reflection, whilst Privates Brierley and Watson recited the poem, “In Flanders Field”. This poem was written by Dr John McCrae, who was a doctor at this dressing station. It was an extremely sombre moment for the group.
The group then spent the rest of the day visited the highly informative Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, Sanctuary wood and Tynecot.
On Sunday evening we participated in the Menin Gate ceremony. Privates Murray and Roberts represented the College and laid two wreaths to remember those who gave their lives.
22nd October The Pals awoke early to the “gentle knocking” sounds from Field Marshalls Duncan, Howarth, Atkinson, Phillips and Jessop. Once everyone was up, fed and on active duty we travelled into France to visit the Somme area.
23rd October Duty done The Beck Pals started the journey home. It may have been a “long way to Tipperary” but it was even longer back to Liverpool. Motorway closures lead to long journey home. The Pals didn’t let this dampen their spirits and were spurned on with the thought of fast food and being entertained by Pte James Carter leading the Pals in a rendition of John Denver’s “Take me Home, Country Roads”.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them”.