Guards get on their bike as twin town remembers

Coldstream Guards were on parade in Bennecourt at a service of remembrance for those who died in WW1
Coldstream Guards were on parade in Bennecourt at a service of remembrance for those who died in WW1

All roads led to Coldstream’s twin town of Bennecourt in north east France at the weekend fora major World War 1 commemoration event.

A contingent of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards cycled there from their Wellington Barracks in London; Coldstream-based Councillor Donald Moffat and his mother Eleanor were official guests of the Maire of Bennecourt, Didier Dumont, and Berwick was represented by Sheriff Michael Richardson.

The military attache from the UK Embassy in Paris also joined the French town and visiting dignitaries in honouring the soldiers of all nations who gave their lives in World War 1.

The soldiers from 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, just back from their final deployment to Afghanistan, marched through Westminster last Wednesday for their homecoming parade.

It also served as a rousing send off for more than 120 serving and former members of the Coldstream Guards who took part in Bike2Bennecourt, the cycle ride of over 250 miles from London to Bennecourt, to raise money for the regimental charities that continues to support wounded soldiers and their families.

Bennecourt has been Coldstream’s twin town for 24 years and the links between the two communities and their regiments - the Coldstream Guards and the La Garde Réublicaine - have been strong.

So it was only natural the UK contingent wanted to join their French counterparts in paying tribute to those who gave their lives in WW1.

The Bennecourt event included a parade with the 2ème Régiment d’Infanterie de la Garde Républicaine.

It also included a guard of honour of local firemen with their traditional axes, 40 veterans’ flags, local riders and horse drawn carriages dating back from 1914. And young firemen were dressed in 1914 clothes.

The parade was led by the Coldstream Guards’ Band, and the welcome in Bennecourt was ‘Second to None’.

The day before the event on Saturday, a detachment of firemen had been to Paris to collect the flame of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe and the flame of remembrance was lit during the whole ceremony to honour the dead.

A huge vin d’honneur was offered to 500 guests, followed by a meal for 400 people, organized by the Mairie of Bennecourt and the guards were hosted at the Base de Loisirs in Verneuil; the day ending with a barbecue for 200 people.