RGLI Trust riders to lay wreaths at Menin Gate

NEXT week RGLI Trust members will be donning their motorbike leathers for a 850-mile round trip to France to honour the islanders who died in the First World War.

Martin Proudlove, Colin Vaudin and Jenny Vaudin are three of the islanders who will be making the 850 mile memorial ride. (30788244)
Martin Proudlove, Colin Vaudin and Jenny Vaudin are three of the islanders who will be making the 850 mile memorial ride. (30788244)

The 25 bikes with nearly 30 riders will be travelling from Guernsey to St Malo before riding to lay wreaths at various memorials in France and the Menin Gate in Belgium to commemorate the regiment.

‘It is important to remember the RGLI as most of it has been lost to history,’ said Lt-Col Colin Vaudin, who is organising the trip.

‘The ride is especially poignant this year as we couldn’t go in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid.’

The group will visit the RGLI Memorial at Masnieres in northern France, where the regiment suffered heavy losses and their defence at Les Rues Vertes prevented other British units from being cut off.

Guernsey twinned with Masnieres in 2017 as part of the wider work of the RGLI, and there will be a ceremony to honour the significant event for both.

‘There is such an overwhelming hospitality from that small suburb in France,’ said organiser Martin Proudlove.

‘The welcome they give us is overwhelming, everyone parades through the town to the memorial and they are so honoured that we visit.’

They will be visiting other RGLI battlefields, as well as the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium to honour missing and unnamed soldiers.

It is the first time the RGLI will be visiting the Menin Gate to lay a wreath and it is also believed that they will be the first people from Guernsey to do so.

‘Guernsey lost more men in 2-3 days than it did in the whole of the Second World War. and it was the biggest demographic change the island has ever seen,’ said Lt-Col Vaudin.

‘The population didn’t recover for nearly 20 years up until the start of the Second World War.’

The ride starts on 26 May with a service in the Sunken Gardens at the RGLI memorial, before the group sets off.

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