Chelsea Pensioners to mark First World War centenary

31st July 2014

Monday 4 August 2014 will be 100 years to the day since Britain entered the Great War. In London this will be marked by the Great War Centenary Parade, a procession of over 40 Edwardian cars, all of which would have been on the road during the Great War. HRH Prince Michael of Kent and 50 Chelsea Pensioners will be taking part in this commemorative event, which is a unique collaboration between the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, the Royal Hospital Chelsea, Brooklands Museum and The Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It has been organised by Nicholas Pellett whose grandfather was killed in the Great War.

150 participants including Chelsea Pensioners, whose predecessors fought in the Great War, and officials and dignitaries from Britain and Western Front towns in Belgium will start at the Royal Hospital Chelsea at 10am, and travel through London in rare Great War motorcars. The route takes in key commemorative landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, the Cenotaph, Lancaster House and IWM London. 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will host an official reception and private viewing of important war paintings from the Government art collection, not otherwise available to the public. At IWM London, the Edwardian motorcars will be displayed around the circular driveway whilst parade participants visit the newly reopened Great War Galleries.

Chelsea Pensioner and Great War Centenary Parade partaker Sandy Saunders said, “I speak for all of the Chelsea Pensioners when I say that we are truly honoured to be representing the Army and the fallen on 4 August. The Great War earned its name because by the end there was barely a family in England the war hadn’t touched; my Grandfather William Peacock was killed in 1917. It is therefore very important that we all remember the war and its huge impact. This Great War Centenary Parade will be a great spectacle to remind people.”  

Organiser Nicholas Pellett said, "My grandfather was Private in the Bedfordshires, killed in the Tank battle at Cambrai in 1917. I have long felt it imperative that I honour not only him, but also all of the other families affected by the Great War. Monday's unique commemorative parade will do just that.” 

In addition to the Great War Centenary Parade, the Chelsea Pensioners, who embody the covenant between the nation, the government and the armed forces, are taking part in a number of commemorative activities on 4 August.  Nine are involved in the First World War Vigil at Westminster Abbey alongside the Duchess of Cornwall. Further afield Chelsea Pensioners are involved in commemorative events in Jersey, Glasgow and Folkestone, as well as at St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry of Wales. 

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