Great War commemoration honour for fire service band

The West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service band
The West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service band

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) Band has been invited to Ypres, Belgium, to lead The Poppy Parade up to the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing on Remembrance Day.

It is of particular significance this year as 2014 marks the 100 year commemoration of the start of World War One, 1914 to 1918.

The band will be accompanied by Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton, Chair of the Fire Authority, Councillor Judith Hughes and Vice-Chair, Councillor Tracey Austin.

Band Manager Kevin Fisher MBE said: “This is a great honour for the band and we have been preparing in earnest for this especially meaningful commemoration.

“In previous years the parade has been incredibly moving and I expect that will be even more so the case as we reflect on 100 years since the outbreak of the war.”

The Menin Gate War Memorial is dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient of World War One and whose graves are unknown.

Its large “Hall of Memory” contains names on stone panels of 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Salient but whose bodies have never been identified or found.

WYFRS band is performing at the invitation of the Last Post Association of Belgium alongside the Ceremonial Unit from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

The Last Post has been played at the Menin Gate every evening since 1929 except during occupation in the Second World War.

The WYFRS band will lead three parades in total, the most important being the one at 11am on November 11.

ACO Walton, alongside Councillor Hughes and Austin, will be laying wreaths on behalf of WYFRS and West Yorkshire Fire Authority.

It’s the fifth time the band have attended the event but perhaps the most important given the particular significance of 2014.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Dave Walton, said: “I am very privileged to be able to represent West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service at this year’s remembrance ceremonies in Ypres along with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Fire Authority, and of course the band.

The band will be fulfilling their local obligations in Bradford and Cleckheaton on Remembrance Sunday (November 9) before heading straight to Hull, to catch the overnight ferry to Zeebrugge, in time for the first parade on the evening of Monday 10.