In order to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Passendaele several senior members from The Order of St John, including four Knights and three Dames, recently carried out a five-day pilgrimage to Ypres, Belgium in September. This concluded with the presentation of a memorial scroll to the Mayor and citizens of Ypres on behalf of His Royal Highness the Grand Prior.


In recognition of St John’s past close association with the Armed Forces, the group had teamed up with representatives from the Rifles Regimental Association to commemorate those members of St John who were killed in the Great War, many from the Ypres Salient. Wreaths on behalf of the Order, the Ambulance and the Fellowship were laid by Victor Law, James Walsh, Lady Gass and the Marquess of Abergavenny at Tyne Cot, St George’s Memorial Church and the Menin Gate in a series of ceremonies.


Left to Right: Deputy Mayor of Ypres, Jeff Verschoore; Mrs Zena Latham CStJ; Mr Andrew Latham KSt J; Mrs Sarah Clothier OStJ and Brigadier John Hemsley OBE GCStJ


The Hon Mrs Virginia Lovell and Lady Hamilton


After the presentation of the scroll on Saturday evening, members of St John played a major role in front of over a thousand spectators at the impressive ‘Last Post’ ceremony at the Menin Gate. Lady Hamilton, The Hon. Virginia Lovell, Andrew Latham, Sarah Clothier and Zena Latham laid wreaths, whilst Philippa Hemsley (Order Ceremonial Staff) gave the eulogy. To conclude and in memory of the visit, the Town Mayor Jan Durnez presented the Grand Prior with a ceramic plate in which depicted the symbols of Ypres, in recognition of the close links between Britain and Belgium.


The tour organiser, Brigadier John Hemsley, said:

This visit was an important tribute on the part our Order to honour the 1,077 members of St John who lost their lives in their role of supporting the Armed Forces, both at home and abroad.