Soil gathered from 70 World War I battlefields arrived in London in November 2013 ahead of events to mark the centenary of the start of the conflict. The process of bringing the ‘sacred soil’ to the UK began on Armistice Day last year with a ceremony at the Menin Gate, attended by the Duke of Edinburgh. It was collected in sandbags by more than 1,000 British and Belgian schoolchildren and brought to the capital by BNS Louise-Marie.
After transfer to HMS Belfast, moored in the Pool of London, the bags were loaded onto a King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery gun carriage and escorted by the Household Cavalry from the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals, and mounted officers from the Metropolitan Police, to Wellington Barracks. The soil will be placed into the ground at the Flanders Fields Memorial Garden.