Khaki Chums march recreated 100 years on in Southampton

Troops march under the Bargates 100 years ago

The Association of Military Remembrance take the same route

Standing to attention

First published in News

IT was the moment history was brought back to life.

The haunting image from 100 years ago of men marching through Southampton on their way to fight in the First World was recreated in 2014.

Crowds gathered in the city centre yesterday to watch members of a military history group – the Association of Military Remembrance – mark the centenary of the Great War in a poignant ceremony.

The 26-strong group – known as the Khaki Chums – dressed up in original 1914 British forces uniforms, each one representing a regiment involved in the mobilisation to France.

The Khaki Chums made the same journey that troops from the British Expeditionary Force, known as the Old Contemptibles, took on August 9 and 10, 1914, when they embarked at Southampton and then left for mainland Europe.

For many it was the last time they saw England.

To the sound of the Pipes and Drums military band of the London Scottish Regiment playing Scotland the Brave, the Khaki Chums marched from Southampton Central railway station to the Cenotaph in Watts Park, through the Bargate and then to Admiralty House near Dock Gate 4.

There they laid a wreath in remembrance of the contribution of servicemen and civilians from Hampshire in 1914.

Hundreds followed the route, many cheering, while others took photographs and filmed the event.

The British Expeditionary Force which left in August 1914, numbered 165,000 men.

At the peak of the mobilisation up to eight troop trains were arriving at Southampton Docks every hour, and up to 18 ships a day sailed across the Channel.

During the conflict more than seven million soldiers came through Southampton Docks on their way to France.

The largest shipment in one day was on August 22, 1914 when 536 officers, 16,364 other ranks, 5,472 horses, 72 guns, 600 vehicles and 260 bikes passed through.

Taff Gillingham, of the Khaki Chums, said that it was their sacrifice that halted the German advance in its tracks, and played a vital part in preventing Britain from losing the Great War.

He said: “The Old Contemptibles had stopped the German army in its tracks. It is probably no exaggeration to say that if the British Expeditionary Force of 1914 had not done what it had trained so long and so hard to do the war would have ended by the end of November 1914, and we would not have been on the winning side.

“This is a real honour for us today to come here and represent them.”

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