On the last weekend of June to celebrate Armed Forces Day, and to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, local MP, Nick Thomas-Symonds, visited war graves in Belgium and France to honour the local soldiers who lost their lives fighting during the 1914-18 conflict.

Commencing with a visit to the Menin Gate in Ypres on 29 June, Mr. Thomas-Symonds laid a wreath in remembrance of the local soldiers who lost their lives during the traditional “Last Post Ceremony” which happens every evening at 8pm. Mr Thomas-Symonds was accompanied by his predecessor as Torfaen MP, Lord Murphy, who laid a wreath to the fallen alongside him.

On 30 June, Mr Thomas-Symonds visited Tyne Cot Cemetery in Ypres and then went on to Acheux-en-Amiénois, a cemetery in the Somme where soldiers from Blaenavon, Cwmbran and Pontypool are buried. There, Mr Thomas-Symonds laid small crosses on the graves of all those soldiers from Torfaen who fell. Mr Thomas-Symonds then visited Mametz Wood where hundreds of men from Wales fell taking the Wood in the most difficult of conditions.

Thereafter, on Sunday 1 July, Mr. Thomas-Symonds attended a
service commemorating the 102nd anniversary of the Battle of the Somme held at the Thiepval Memorial and laid a second wreath in honour of those from the Eastern Valley who were killed at the Somme.

When asked about the visits, Mr. Thomas-Symonds stated:

“I was honoured and humbled to be able to lay tributes commemorating those brave soldiers from the Eastern Valley who lost their lives fighting in the First World War on this, the hundredth anniversary of the end of the conflict. Torfaen has a proud tradition of public service and I was very moved by my visit to the final resting places of our soldiers, and
remember their extraordinary sacrifice. We will never forget what they gave for our freedom. I’d also like to pay tribute to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for their painstaking work in keeping these graves in such immaculate condition.”

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