Early on Sunday morning I set off for Belgium to meet up with a small group of teachers, students and OBMs with the important purpose of commemorating those OBMs who fell in World War One. We attended an evening Service of Dedication in St George’s Church in Ypres for a new school memorial plaque and then made our way to the Menin Gate to lay a wreath as part of the Last Post Service.
It was particularly significant that we chose this year to make the journey as it marks the centenary of the death of OBM Edgar Mobbs who died leading an attack charge on a machine gun post in the Battle of Passchendaele in July 1917.
St. George’s Church is an Anglican Church within the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe and was built as a memorial to British and Commonwealth troops who lost their lives in the Great War. It serves the needs of both a local congregation and the many thousands of pilgrims who have been visiting the battlefields of Flanders since war ended in 1918. It is a remarkable place as its walls are lined with plaques from regiments and schools each of which celebrate those individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy today.
After the service we made our way to the Menin Gate which is an equally sobering but inspirational place and where the names of at least four OBMs are recorded. Flanked by Rachel Radley, our senior CCF cadet and Col Chris Holmes, an OBM, I had the great privilege of laying a wreath in memory of all the OBMs who had given their young lives for the sake of their country. It was an emotional and humbling experience and all the more poignant that we placed the wreath underneath Mobbs’s name.
My thanks go to BMS Contingent Commander Alex Smith for organising the trip. That BMS now has a memorial in the place where so many fell is absolutely as it should be.