Military Cycle Pilgrimage Finishes In Colchester
21 October 2011, 06:00
A senior officer's personal pilgrimage to visit the graves of the 22 Royal Military Police soldiers killed on operations during his 32 years in the Army has come to an end in Colchester.
Ahead of his retirement next March, Colonel Dudley Giles cycled almost 2,000 miles around the UK in memory of the redcaps.
Col Giles' journey started on September 20 in Northants at the grave of Corporal Nic Webster-Smith, who was killed in Afghanistan in November 2009, and finished in Colchester on Friday 21 October.
He visited Corporal Paul Long's grave in Colchester Cemetery before a short service was held at the unit's Goojerat Barracks in memory of Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell.
The two soldiers were part of a patrol of six 156 Pro Coy soldiers killed in Iraq in June 2003.
He has raised £4,000 for the RMP Central Benevolent Fund and laid down a challenge to RMP units to bring that up to £20,000.
Col Giles said: "The Army is about people being challenged as individuals while working as part of a team. This is the last physical challenge I have set myself before I retire, but more importantly it is about paying homage and respect to the 22 men and women killed while I have been serving.
"It has been a very emotional journey. Each of these individual's deaths is a loss to their family and friends, but also to the RMP as a regimental family, Soldiers, by nature of the trade, must get on with the job but that doesn't mean that we don't mourn and remember our fallen friends."