`

Leeds military hero Simon Brown’s pride at part in Menin Gate memorial march

Simon Brown.
Simon Brown.

Courage runs in the family for Simon Brown, an ex-serviceman from Morley left badly injured when he was shot by a sniper in Iraq.

His grandfather, Sydney Brown, served in the Second World War while his great-grandfather, Joseph Brown, saw action during the First World War.

And their bravery, together with the sacrifices made by his own former comrades, will be in 39-year-old Simon’s thoughts next week as he plays his part in a day of tributes to the Great War’s fallen at the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres in Belgium.

More than 2,200 members of the Royal British Legion will embark on a series of tours of First World War trenches, battlefields and cemeteries in Belgium and France from Sunday.

The pilgrimage will culminate in a two-mile march to the Menin Gate on Wednesday, followed by a service of commemoration that will include a reading from the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Simon, a former Royal Engineer, is one of the Legion members who will carry wreaths to the site containing messages written by schoolchildren from the UK.

Speaking about his involvement in what promises to be a hugely emotional occasion, he said: “I have got my granddad and great-granddad’s medals, which I will be wearing, but my dad [Michael] also served, he did 10 years in the RAF during the Cold War and he’s quite ill at the moment, so it’s representing him as well and I know he’s going to be really proud.

“To actually march past the Menin Gate while representing the town of Morley is going to be a big moment for me.”

Simon, who was left almost blind when he was shot in Basra in 2006, is the chair of the Morley branch of the Legion and will be joined next Wednesday by its standard bearer, Roy Wilson.

The pair are among 180 people from Yorkshire travelling to the march and service, which are being staged as part of the build-up to November’s centenary of the signing of the Armistice.

Wednesday’s events will also come 90 years since the Legion organised visits for thousands of veterans, war widows and family members to the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres.

Known as the Great Pilgrimage, those visits ended with a march to the Menin Gate on August 8, 1928.