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Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 12:03 UK
Veterans lay wreaths for Harry Patch
harry patch
Harry Patch visited Ypres in 2007

For the last few years, ex-servicemen and women have visited Ypres in Belgium to lay a wreath on behalf of Harry whose friends died in the war.

Harry Patch was the last surviving Tommy who served in the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I.

He passed away on 25 July 2009 aged 111.

This year, veterans will be laying wreaths in memory of Harry Patch and on his behalf during a two visit to Belgium.

Robin White, chairman of the Wells branch of the Royal Legion, and a friend of Harry, said: "This year we are laying the wreaths in memory of Harry and his comrades who he is now reunited with.

Wreath for Harry

"It is important that we keep alive the memory of those people who sacrificed their lives for the peace and security of our country and for the preservation of the way of life."

The army veterans will arrive in Belgium on Friday evening, and the following morning will be spent visiting Tyn Cot, the largest military cemetery in the world, where they will lay a wreath for Harry.

After this, the group will travel to Passchendaele to see the plaque which bears Harry's name, then travel to Langemarke, the German military cemetery, to lay another wreath for Harry, something he did for his friends in 2007.

They will also see the Menin Gate, which is located on one of the roads leading out of Ypres, where thousands of soldiers travelled along to reach the front line during World War I.

"It is an awe-inspiring memorial to thousands of soldiers who were killed during the first world war whose bodies were never recovered.

"Since 1921 five buglers of the local fire brigade have gone and they have sounded the Last Post, day in, day out, all weathers. I would defy anyone who is going out there for the first time to be able to stand there without shedding a tear."

Everyman's club

On Sunday the veterans will visit Poperinge, where Harry used to visit during his service at the Battle of Passchendale.

"That was a little town, which was as far away from the front to be out of range from German shelling, it was safe. In 1915, a house was rented by one of the army padres and opened as an Everyman's Club and is now known as Talbot House."

They will parade from Talbot House to the Market Square and lay a wreath from Harry at the War Memorial which honours the Belgian dead of that time.

After that the plan is to return to Talbot House for a welcome cup of tea to finish off their trip.

"The then warden of the day did some tests, he got people to come out and bring various types of tea from England and they decided the best tea was PG Tips.

"Ever since then the order has gone out that if you are coming from England and visiting Talbot House, always bring a box of PG Tips with you."


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