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Local man travels to Belgium to pay tribute to fallen Melksham soldier

A LOCAL man travelled to Belgium to pay tribute to a Melksham soldier who died during World War 1.

After reading about Private Alec George Burbidge in Bob Purnell’s column in the Melksham News, local man Phil Gaskell decided to visit the grave of the soldier during one of his annual visits to the WW1 battlefields of France and Belgium.

Phil said, “I am part of a tour group (called Genesta) and twice a year we go out to France and Belgium to visit the WW1 battlefields. We were actually in the Ramparts Cemetery (just on the edge of Ypres, Belgium) where Alec is buried on Armistice Day at 11am, so it was especially moving to pay tribute at such a special time.

“Whenever I do such a tribute, I always wonder what the soldier himself would have been feeling before he died, and always am amazed at the bravery of them. I often wonder if I could have done what they did.”

During his visit to the grave, Phil gave a small presentation, laid a wreath, and had a regimental tune piped in his memory.

Private Alec George Burbidge was aged 20 and served in the second Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment. He died on the 2nd of June 1917.

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