Guernsey Press

Motorcyclists carrying poppy wreaths to be laid at RGLI memorial in Masnieres

A CONVOY of five riders took a ferry from St Peter Port to St Malo yesterday to begin a 350-mile ride to Cambrai.

Riders from the RGLI Trust are travelling to Masnieres to attend the RGLI memorial, connect with the local memorial service, and to lay wreathes on behalf of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and the RGLI. Left to right, Paul Smith, Colin Vaudin (holding a wreath), Tony ‘Tank’ De la Mare, Chris Oliver (RGLI Trust chairman), Colin Hubert and Will Van Zanten. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32766583)

Colin Vaudin, who served in the military for 23 years, is leading the ride, which could see them head through freezing and snowy conditions.

‘I’m sure the motorcycles are up for it, us humans are a different matter. We should arrive in a day,’ he said.

They carried poppy wreaths in their bike boxes, representing Guernsey, Alderney and Sark veterans, as well as a wreath representing the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry.

Guernsey holds a remembrance service tomorrow for the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry, with which islanders served during the First World War.

‘I feel it’s our duty to commemorate the tragic wars,’ Mr Vaudin said. ‘There are still dozens of Guernseymen undiscovered, and the memorial is effectively their gravestone.’

He said that the RGLI held the British line in France when all other battalions had collapsed.

The RGLI was ordered to hold a village on the outskirts of Masnieres, which is just to the south of Cambrai. Twice they were pushed out by weight of numbers, but twice they retook the village.

Each year the ride leader carries a new flag to place in the church in Masnieres, and return the flag from the previous year, which goes to a local

family who lost a relative.

There is no specific selection, but people are advised to apply for consideration on the RGLI’s website.

A memorial ride will also take place in Guernsey tomorrow, departing from Guernsey Pearl at 10am and riding north towards St Peter Port, where there will be a service at the Sunken Gardens at 11am.

In line with the 100-year anniversary of the battle in 1917, Masnieres twinned with St Peter Port, allowing for an exchange of students.

RGLI Trust chairman Chris Oliver said: ‘There is a small abandoned cottage there which we want to refurbish and transform into an educational centre for the exchange students’

‘We’ve moved from commemorative to cultural.’