Ely Royal British Legion chairman David raises £900 for Poppy Appeal by cycling 319 miles and climbing 15,815 feet from London to Belgium
PUBLISHED: 12:48 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:48 19 September 2017
Cycling 319 miles and climbing 15,815 feet helped the chairman of the Ely branch of the Royal British Legion to raise £900 for charity.
David Martin took part in the Royal British Legion’s cycle ride from London to Ypres, Belgium, in aid of the Poppy Appeal.
“I raised more than £900 thanks to the great support of the people of Ely, Lloyd’s Bank (Ely), The Kings Arms and Little Print shop.”
Joined by more than 30 other cyclists, it is hoped the ride will have raised more than £18,000 in total.
Mr Martin gave a day by account of the cycling challenge.
“Following several months of training and gym work, the date of the big cycle ride arrived. On a warm but cloudy Thursday morning at Greenwich, London, 30 cyclists set off; the inaugural ride on this route for the Royal British Legion.
“Despite losing half a pedal within the first 500 metres, I managed to get to the first refreshment stop. After a refreshment stop we set off on the final leg to Dover and the ferry to Calais.
“The support crew were extremely impressed by the 30 cyclists who managed to arrive at The Premier Inn at Dover within 30 minutes of each other.
“After a quick coffee we boarded the ferry for Calais and our first night’s accommodation – having travelled 87 miles and climbed 5,118 feet.”
“The next morning, the weather was perfect for cycling to Abbeville. After an uneventful morning we stopped at our first memorial, Etaples Military Cemetery.
“During the First World War, the area around Etaples was the scene of immense concentrations of Commonwealth reinforcement camps and hospitals. It was remote from attack, except from aircraft.
“At the last water stop, at 75 miles, the rain started. Fifteen miles later and a rather drenched bunch of cyclists reached the next hotel.”
“We set off on a wet and early ride to Abbeville via the Thiepval Memorial. On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, 13 divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt.
“The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave.
“Over 90 per cent of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.”
“On the final day the weather was again a bit on the damp side. The route was a tough start with only one real hill in the first 10 or so miles and then almost Fen-like for the final 60 miles - it would almost be like training around Ely.
“The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient.
“The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient.
“United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war.
“New Zealand casualties that died prior to 16 August 1917 are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery. “The memorial now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known.
“The Last Post, the traditional final salute to the fallen, is played by the buglers in honour of the memory of the soldiers of the former British Empire and its allies, who died in the Ypres Salient during the First World War.
“Every evening since 1928 the Last Post has been played at 8pm. A fitting end to a great bike ride.”