A British army veteran and his five-year-old son laid a wreath at Menin Gate in Belgium in memory of the youngster's great-great uncle who died fighting in the First World War.

Five-year-old Tommy Osborne from Aldeby, near Beccles, along with his dad, Royal Signals veteran Andrew Osborne, laid a wreath at the memorial in Ypres as part of the Last Post Ceremony.  

Tommy is a member of the 2nd Beccles Scout Group (Squirrels) and proudly wore his dad's miniature medals and those of his great-great uncle, William Osborne, who was killed in action on July 3, 1917 in France.

East Anglian Daily Times: Five-year-old Tommy holding the wreath he laid in honour of his Great-Great Uncle, William Osborne who died in combatFive-year-old Tommy holding the wreath he laid in honour of his Great-Great Uncle, William Osborne who died in combat (Image: Jessica Osborne)

His father said: "It was a privilege to lay a wreath in honour of the fallen with my son.

"The ceremony was incredibly moving. Walking out hand in hand with my son was a beautiful moment and talking about it brings a smile to my face.

"I am incredibly proud of Tommy, who recognises the scale and significance and how huge the scale of combat was upon seeing the graves and names.

"It was a special moment."

Attending that evening was the TV presenter and historian Dan Snow and his family.

As well as laying a family wreath, Mr Snow also read out 'For the Fallen' after the Last Post was played.

East Anglian Daily Times: John Osborne, Tommy (centre) and Dan Snow (right)John Osborne, Tommy (centre) and Dan Snow (right) (Image: Jessica Osborne)

Prior to the ceremony, Mr Snow made a beeline for Tommy and took the time for a long chat, and photo.

"It was very heart-warming and special that Dan Snow took the time to speak with Tommy at great lengths, everyone made a fuss of him and that was very lovely," Mr Osborne said.

Mr Osborne joined the Royal Signals in 1983.

He then progressed and held many positions such as an IT operator and engineer before leaving the army in 2005 to pursue other work.

Now he runs a cleaning service, fittingly named Squaddie Cleaning Services Ltd.

The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. 


East Anglian Daily Times: The Menin Gate, YpresThe Menin Gate, Ypres (Image: Archant)

The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields.

The Ypres Menin Gate memorial now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known.

The memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, was unveiled by Lord Plumer in July 1927.

East Anglian Daily Times: Menin Gate in YpresMenin Gate in Ypres