Defence Humanists represented at Royal British Legion’s Ypres commemorations

31 August, 2018

Defence Humanists has been represented at the Royal British Legion’s ‘Great Pilgrimage 90’, the organisation’s largest ever membership event. Defence Humanists is Humanists UK’s section representing non-religious armed forces and MOD personnel and their families. Humanists UK, which has campaigned for humanists to be represented at the National Service of Remembrance, is pleased that Defence Humanists were invited to take part in the event as this is indicative of an increasing acceptance and recognition of the contribution of the non-religious to the armed forces.

The Great Pilgrimage 90 was a recreation of the Royal British Legion’s 1928 tour of the Somme and Ypres. 90 years ago, thousands of veterans and war widows visited the sites of battle and cemeteries. They then took part in a ceremonial march to the Menin Gate in the Belgian town of Ypres, in which the names of soldiers whose remains have not been identified are inscribed.

Marking its anniversary, two representatives from each registered branch of the Royal British Legion, including Defence Humanists, took part in a two day tour of the First World War battlefields and cemeteries culminating in a parade and wreath laying at the Menin Gate.

Chair of Defence Humanists Emily McCullouch commented, ‘Being able to commemorate those who sacrificed their youth, their health, and for over 700,000 British soldiers, their lives in service of their country is an important part of the non-religious experience of war. For Defence Humanists to play a prominent part in such a large-scale event shows not only that have become established as a body representing the voices of the non-religious in the armed services, but that the existence and contribution of the non-religious in the armed forces is being increasingly acknowledged.’


For further comment or information contact Rachel Taggart-Ryan, Campaigns Officer at or 0207 324 3065.

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At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.