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Leeds pays its respects as 800 military personnel march in First World War tribute

Servicemen and women outside Leeds Civic Hall ahead of First World War commemoration parade through Leeds city centre. Picture by Gerard Binks.

Servicemen and women outside Leeds Civic Hall ahead of First World War commemoration parade through Leeds city centre. Picture by Gerard Binks.

Proud servicemen and women have joined Yorkshire army cadets and hundreds of onlookers to pay a poignant tribute to the lives lost in the First World War.

One of the largest military parades in Leeds’ history saw around 800 members of the armed forces gather in formation in the shadow of Leeds Civic Hall at Millennium Square before marching through the city on Saturday.

Local dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant for West Yorkshire Dr Ingrid Roscoe inspected the soldiers ahead of the parade through Leeds to a service of commemoration at Leeds Minster, which was then followed by a further parade by 4th Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment in memory of the 1918 Battle of Bligny.

The sun beamed brightly on an occasion that proved a fitting mark of respect to those who served in a conflict that started 100 years ago on August 4 1914.

Brigadier Charlie Herbert, commander of 4th Mechanized Brigade based in Catterick, said: “Many soldiers from West Yorkshire were lost during the First World War and many more were seriously injured. One hundred years on we can see the magnitude of these sacrifices and know the scale of this historic event. It is only fitting that the armed forces past and present and their affiliated organisations remember those soldiers that fell and pay their respects.”

Wounded veterans as well as 14 Elizabeth Cross recipients attended the Leeds Minster service alongside the likes of Coun Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, and the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun David Congreve.

The initial parade through Leeds, which marched through the city centre to the sounds of The Band of the Yorkshire Regiment, was well observed by locals along its route from Millennium Square along Calverley Road, the Headrow, Vicar Lane and Kirkgate to Leeds Minster.

Dr Roscoe said the parade marked “the suffering of an entire generation of men, women and children whose lives were destroyed or blighted by the terrible war that began 100 years ago”.

It also proved the start of a series of council-run events to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, including the launch of exhibitions at Leeds Central Library and Leeds City Museum on August 4 itself.

A ceremony of remembrance at the Victoria Gardens involving readings, music and the dimming of the First World War Light will take place the same day from 10.45pm.

Coun Wakefield added: “It is extremely important that as part of the centenary commemorations marking the start of the First World War in 1914, we reflect on all aspects of the conflict and remember those people who fought from both our city and the region.”

 

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