How one Legion member will be following in his father's footsteps on Great Pilgrimage 90

On 8 August 2018, Philip Kenneth Jarvis, chair of the Royal British Legion’s Redditch branch in Worcestershire, will join over 1,000 Legion members for the Great Pilgrimage 90.

Great Pilgrimage 90 is a recreation of the 1928 Great Pilgrimage, whereby veterans and widowed wives visited the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres before marching to the Menin Gate. Philip’s father was one of many veterans to attend this pilgrimage a decade after he fought in the First World War himself.

On 8 August 2018, to commemorate the last 100 days of the First World War, Philip will join Legion members to carry their Standards along the same route to the Menin Gate, exactly 90 years on from his late father.

Personal connections to WW1

During the First World War Philip’s father, Kenneth Baylis Jarvis was in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and fought at the Battle of the Somme in July, 1916. It is recorded that he was largely responsible for the burial parties, a job that would no doubt have left its mark.

Kenneth’s twin brother, Philip Baylis Jarvis (who Philip is named after), also served in WWI in the Royal Garrison Artillery, but was tragically killed in action on the 27 October at the 3rd battle of Ypres in 1917. Today he is buried at Klein Vierstraat cemetery, Ypres.

It was not until the Great Pilgrimage in 1928, organised by the Legion a decade after the end of WW1, that Kenneth was able to visit his twin brother’s grave for the first time.

Philip's father, Kenneth Baylis Jarvis, Royal Warwickshire Regiment

With such a close personal connection to WW1 within his family, Philip felt driven to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“My father died in 1975 when I was in my early twenties, and at the time I didn’t really appreciate what he did during the Great War. There wasn’t as much information and no battlefield tours that we have now, so it was only much later that I realised what my father might have gone through when he served in the war - when he would only have been in his early twenties himself. It’s important for me to go on GP90 to give something back to him, and show my appreciation for what he did.

There is real significance in literally following in his footsteps.

“My father never spoke about the war. The only thing I remember is being a small boy, maybe ten or 12 years old - and there was a terrific thunderstorm one August - the worst I’ve ever seen. I was with my mum in my house but my Dad had gone to visit my grandmother down the road and was out in the storm.  We were beginning to wonder where he had got to. At that point I remember seeing him walking down the road through the storm. When he got in, he simply said: “Well, there’s been worst things in my life than a thunderstorm”. It was not until much later that I began to realise the significance of that sentence, but it has remained with me ever since.”

Philips uncle, Philip Baylis Jarvis was tragically killed in action at the 3rd battle of Ypres in 1917

Philip's work for the Legion

“As my role in Chair for the Redditch Royal British Legion I am also going to lay a wreath on behalf of the Redditch War Dead which I also think is important.”

Philip has also written a book, with the help of other historians, called “Remembering Redditch’s Fallen Heroes”,  about of those from Redditch who died in the war. All of the profits from the book go to the Legion.

Philip says that volunteering for the Legion keeps him young and active and is quick to emphasise the importance of its work.

“I think the Royal British Legion is still so important to the welfare of the veterans of the wars, and for those who still serve today. The veterans are getting older and it’s important that they and their families can come to us for advice and support.

 

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