Following on from my research into the Framlingham World War names in 2011 I felt that I gained a greater knowledge and understanding of what these men and their families went through between 1914 and 1918.
To mark the centenary year I have been looking for a unique personal challenge that will commemorate this 100th anniversary and I have recently signed up to the Ancestry.co.uk WW1 Frontline walk in France and Belgium between 15th and 19th October 2014.
Exclusively organized on behalf of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, I will be walking representing the Suffolk Regiment one of the 220 regiments that existed at the outbreak of World War 1 and I will be walking 75 miles over three days.
My challenge will begin near Albert in Northern France and beginning in the Somme I will trek north through the symbolic poppy fields along the route, stopping at the many World War 1 memorial sites that I will see on the way.
Over 8.5 million people across the world died in the First World War, which is an incredible figure, and sometimes difficult to comprehend. Only by seeing the memorials do you really grasp the sheer scope of this war, as the sites commemorate not only French, English and German soldiers, but also the many nations from the Commonwealth, Russia, the US and the rest of Europe who fought alongside each other.
I will pass through many famous battle sites such as Thiepval, Vimy, the German Cemetery at Neuiville Saint Vaast and Notre-Dame de Lorette, which is the largest French Memorial.
The challenge will end with a moving visit to Ypres in Belgium and the ceremony of the last-post at the Menin Gate on Saturday 18 October 2014, exactly 100 years on from the start of the Battle of Ypres.
I have committed myself to raising £1,600 for the charity and more information can be found at http://www.justgiving.com/simonivanlast
Thank you for your support.