Over 200 hundred Leyton Orient supporters and friends of the Club departed E10 this morning as they set off to northern France to pay their respects to the three Clapton Orient footballers killed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 – William Jonas, Richard McFadden and George Scott.
Travelling with them to the battlefields is Pat and Mark Smith - George Scott's great granddaughter and great, great, grandson. Pat and Mark travelled down from Bolton to meet-up with the group, so for them the journey started yesterday. Also on board is the 17th Pals' Battalion Band who will be assisting with the ceremonies and will also perform in Arras Town Square Friday evening.
O's legends, Alan Comfort and Peter Kitchen are also making this special pilgrimage. Alan will be leading the memorial services in his role as Club Chaplain, whilst Peter will be sharing his considerable knowledge and interest in the Great War with those travelling.
As well as visiting the resting places of the O's fallen, a number of special events will be taking place of which organiser Steve Jenkins is keeping close to his chest.
Steve is the O's WW1 Historian and author of They Took The Lead, he organised the first trip to the Somme in 2006 with subsequent visits taking place in 2008, 2011 (when the O's Somme Memorial was unveiled), 2014, 2016 and 2018.
This is the seventh such trip to the Somme and follows on from the in augural visit to Ypres last year and over 1200 O's fans have since made the special journey, with many having travelled a number of times and some having been on every visit so far.
Steve said, 'It is always an honour to organise these visits to the Somme and it is great to see so many Orient supporters show such interest in those brave Clapton Orient lads who took the lead and it is right that we should pay our respects to our fallen along with the countless thousands who served and died - they will never be forgotten'