Second World War veteran performs with choir at the Menin Gate
30 October 2012
Second World War veteran, Charles Benford, 93, travelled to
Belgium with the Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir, performing in
front of visitors at Tyne Cot and the Menin Gate.
Charles fought on the Normandy beaches in June 1944 and
continued through France, Belgium and southern Holland with the
49th West Riding Division, rising to the rank of
Sergeant with the 2nd Battalion of the Essex
Charles took the opportunity, during the Choir's trip to
Belgium, to visit Essex Farm Cemetery and Tyne Cot Cemetery and place poppy crosses
on the graves of many soldiers of the Essex Regiment.
While at Tyne Cot, the choir performed 'Close Thine Eyes', in
front of an audience of visitors from across the world.
The choir also attended the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate, Ypres, where they once again sang
'Close Thine Eyes' and the famous Welsh hymn, 'Gwahoddiad' -
despite an unfortunate power cut.
During the ceremony, Charles stood alone and called out the
'Exhortation' and the 'Kohima' after the Last Post and
Reveille had sounded.
Choir member Fred Schofield said: "Everyone in the choir, and
that includes many who were unable to be present on the tour, felt
so proud of Charles and the way he did what he thought he should
do, to remember the many who were lost in such a tragic way. A
grand old man who has served this country well."
A photo album of Charles' trip with the choir can be found here via our Facebook page.