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 – Autumn Communities continue to put up Plaques along the route and host a series of local launches.
2020 – March – Belgium is fully plaqued, mapped and marked with over 25 in place on major town halls and tourist offices, and waymarked with over 450 in place on wooden posts.
2020 – September – massive surge in interest internationally, with PTSD charities becoming a focus. Momentum in France moving quickly at local and Department level.
2020 – October – Official inauguration of the pathway in Belgium. Event held in Ypres with international press and WFW team in conjunction with Ypres tourist office.
2020 – November – TBC – following the hugely popular London Memorials Walk in 2018, Part 2 likely around Remembrance Sunday.
2020 – Q3 – Plaques send to Regions and discussions on waymarkers underway
2020 – November – Phase 3 launch event of The Western Front Way in London over 250 guests – ‘What’s next and how to achieve it’.
2021 – April – Tom Heap, trustee and relation of Alexander Douglas Gillespie sets off on a 1920’s bicycle from south to north, tackling the 1000km to raise awareness, pay homage, and fundraise.
2021 – June – The Not Forgotten Association – https://thenotforgotten.org/ ride The Western Front Way. More details and link to follow.
2021 – June – The Western Front Way Representatives in France, Belgium and Germany for further advances of our mission and further plaque deliveries.
Our logo contains the four flowers of remembrance Poppy, Cornflower, Daisy and Forget Me Not. You will find these logos all along the route.