At the centenary of the Armistice approaching, 35 Goudhurst & Kilndown parishioners undertook a pilgrimage to the Great War battlefields around Ypres to commemorate the 68 men and one woman from the parish who died in the First World War. All their names were specifically mentioned at some point along the route.
The group paused at the cemetery where George Chestney, once a gardener at Brandfold, lies buried; at other cemeteries, brief services were conducted by the Rev. Hugh Nelson at the graves of William Roff and George Luck, farmworkers before the war. Members of both these soldiers’ families, visiting for the first time, placed poppy wreaths on the graves.
The group heard commentaries from Royal British Legion branch chairman Tim Nicholson and local historian Roger Joye at some notable locations, including the scene of the crucial action led by The Buffs against the first ever gas attack by the Germans (April 1915), and the advance of the British army towards Passchendaele (July – November 1917).
The group later moved on to the Menin Gate memorial, where the names of six men from Goudhurst and Kilndown are carved among those of 55,000 British and Empire soldiers who died in the area and who have no known grave. The standard of the Goudhurst & Kilndown branch of the Royal British Legion, (handled by Mick Harris) was on parade at the Last Post ceremony, and a wreath was formally laid.
Organised by Tim Nicholson, Peter Rolington and Roger Joye, the pilgrimage raised over £400 for RBL branch funds.