1915 – 2nd Lieutenant Alexander Douglas Gillespie of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders writes home from the front line to tell of his vision of ‘a via sacra’ (a sacred road), a route for peace between the lines;
“when peace comes, our government might combine with the French government to make one long avenue between the lines from the Vosges to the sea….I would make a fine broad road in the ‘No-Mans Land’ between the lines, with paths for pilgrims on foot and plant trees for shade and fruit trees, so that the soil should not altogether be waste. Then I would like to send every man, woman and child in Western Europe on a pilgrimage along that Via Sacra so that they might think and learn what war means from the silent witnesses on either side.”
1915 – Gillespie killed in action on the 25th September 1915, days after writing the above letter home about a route for peace.
2015 – This letter is rediscovered by Sir Anthony Seldon, one of our trustees, who develops the idea of this grand and unifying vision as the future of commemoration.
2016 – The idea catches the attention of enthusiasts who walk sections of the route in 2016 and 2017 to gauge interest, viability and support.
2017 – The Western Front Way charity is formed to ensure that this vision is brought to the attention of key stakeholders in time for the end of the centenary.
2018 – The Western Front Way makes giant strides, seeing the idea begin to grow across Europe and gain support from key sites along the route.
2018 – We become the voice of future commemoration heard globally, and seen as the way to ensure the first world war becomes an eternal memory, as well as a route for peace for all conflict.
2019 – May – The Western Front Way sees the first plaques go up on points of note along the route (find out more under plaque to plaque on our website).
2019 – June – The route is mapped, marked and made available to all for free, just as was intended with walkers, cyclists and others making their own journeys along the path for peace first written about in 1915.
2019 – Summer and Autumn – Walkers begin their own journeys, sharing their experiences and stories online as the message spreads
2019 – September – a launch event in France and Belgium will see the walk handed over to our partners in Europe for perpetuity.
2019 – October – The charity dissolves having completed the vision set out 104 years previously, and thus allowing all people from all nations to make their own pilgrimage along the Western Front Way.
Our logo contains the four flowers of remembrance Poppy, Cornflower, Daisy and Forget Me Not. You will find these logos all along the route.