In June 2016 a group of 6 friends – 4 from the Parish of Publow with Pensford – set off on a 300 mile Battlefields Bike Ride. This took them from the site of the battle of Hastings, then across the Channel to the sites of the medieval battles of Crecy and Agincourt, and on to the First World War sites around the Belgian town of Ypres and finally to Waterloo, just outside Brussels.
One of the main aims of the ride was to visit the grave of Bombardier Disney Grant whose name is one of the seven from World War 1 inscribed on the Pensford War Memorial. He is one of only 2 of the Pensford fallen from the First World War to have a known grave. He was in the Royal Field Artillery and died, aged 33, near Ypres on 20 July 1917. His grave is in the small town of Poperinge, a few miles from Ypres where fighting raged throughout the 4 years of the war – an area known as the Ypres salient and where many memorials and cemeteries bear witness to the thousands who died there. These cemeteries are immaculately maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and vary in size from a few dozen graves to well over a thousand.
We took with us to Poperinge the wreath which had been laid on the Pensford War Memorial on 11 November 2015. On behalf of the people of Pensford, we were very proud to lay it on Disney Grant’s grave in memory of all the Pensford men who gave their lives.
Our ride included a visit to the Menin Gate, erected in the 1920’s in the town of Ypres on the road out of the town where so many thousands of soldiers marched to the front, many never to return. The Menin Gate records the names of 54,389 men who died around the town and who have no known grave. One Pensford man, Charles Coles, a private in the Somerset Light Infantry, is listed on the Menin Gate. He died on 15 June 1915, possibly an early victim of a gas attack.
Every evening at 8 o’clock volunteer buglers from the town sound the Last Post as a daily reminder of the sacrifice of so many.
Although our bike ride took us to other historically important battle fields – Hastings, Crecy, Agincourt and Waterloo – the most memorable and moving was undoubtedly our visit to the First World War sites – and in particular the grave of Disney Grant and the Last Post at the Menin Gate.