A BIRMINGHAM charity is helping Silhillians keep poignant memories of the First World War alive by organising trips to the battlefields of Northern Europe as the 90th anniversary of the end of the end of the conflict approaches in November.
Scotsman Alex Bulloch runs the Birmingham War Research Society, which was set up in 1972 and has helped thousands of people across the country, including some from the Midlands and Solihull, visit relatives graves abroad after being involved in conflicts during the Great War (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945).
The 76-year-old retired policeman and former merchant seaman, who lives in Kings Norton, has been involved in excursions to France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg for the past 38 years.
He first became interested in the two world wars when he was a child and his family used to sing songs such as It's a Long Way to Tipperary to him.
Later, after a trip to Paris about 45 years ago, he stopped and visited a cemetery where British soldiers had been buried and said that it awakened a fascination in him.
During his time as a Sergeant at Bourneville Police Station, colleagues asked him to set up a trip to one of the cemeteries and that was the beginning of many to come.
He said: "Going on these trips can be a very emotional experience for families who have loved ones who have been killed in the wars. Sometimes it is heart-wrenching and upsetting, but it is also a reflective time.
"We often hold a religious service at a cemetery where we have a piper and someone playing an accordion and we read the names of the soldiers who have died out, with their rank and regiment too."
The five day trip on November 6, which includes breakfast, evening meals, travel costs and commentary and involves visits to 14 cemeteries in France and Belgium and the battlefields of Somme and Ypres, costs £350 per person with an additional charge of £21 for insurance.
There are still a few places left and anyone interested should contact Alex on 0121-459-9008 for further details or visit the website at www.battlefield-tours.org.uk.