MORE than 200 people gathered for the unveiling of a memorial plaque on the site of the former Drill Hall in Ledbury, to commemorate those who marched away to war, with many never to return.

The poignant gathering took place on Armistice Day, November 11, with a bugle sounding to gain people’s attention at 10.30am sharp.

Colonel Andy Taylor, Rifles County Colonel invited the Mayor of Ledbury Councillor Phillip Howells to unveil the plaque.

After the unveiling, a poppy wreath was laid by pupils from Ledbury Primary School.

Colonel Taylor said: “The Drill Hall stood on what is now the Co-op supermarket car park from the early 1900s until its demolition in the late 1980s. Territorial soldiers from the Town and District paraded and trained here, and marched away to war from here in 1914 and again in 1939.

“After the Second War the troops based here were a key part of the Cold War defence. The Drill Hall had also been the headquarters of the Home Guard in Ledbury.”

Colonel Taylor, whose grandfather had paraded at the Drill Hall before the First World War and whose father served there with the Home Guard in the Second World War, added: “The size of the crowd indicated the affection that is still felt in the town for the building and the memories many have of it.

“One lady I spoke to told me her father had marched off to war from the Drill Hall in 1914 and then her two brothers in 1939.”

He added: “The Drill Hall and the Territorials based there played a full part in the town’s life. There was a thriving social club and concerts, boxing matches and dances were regularly hosted and two sisters told me their parents had met at one of the dances there in the 1940s.”

Also in attendance were Major Robert Barnes - the last Commanding officer of the Territorials at Ledbury; Ian Stevens carrying The Royal British Legion Ledbury Branch Standard; Peter McVann carrying The Rifles and LI Association Ross On Wye Standard, and Steve Ellis who was a Territorial at Ledbury as were his father and grandfather before him.

The plaque was funded by public subscription and generous donations from Ledbury Rotary Club and Ledbury Civic Society.

After the unveiling those attended moved to the town’s War Memorial for a short Act of Remembrance at 11am.