Battlefields trip by taxi for Drayton Park D-Day veteran, 91

Ken and his taxi in front of the Menin Gate at Ypres

Ken and his taxi in front of the Menin Gate at Ypres - Credit: Archant

An Islington veteran has spoken of his pride at taking part in a historic trip to First World War battlefields in Ypres, Belgium, which saw 64 cabbies forego their fares to provide transport.

Ken (centre) at the Menin gate with driver Jim Moore (left) and friend Bill Parr

Ken (centre) at the Menin gate with driver Jim Moore (left) and friend Bill Parr - Credit: Archant

Ken Watts, 91, from Drayton Park, was one of 98 veterans who journeyed to Ypres last Tuesday.

The trip saw the veterans take in several historic sites from the First World War, including attending a ceremony at the Menin Gate monument, where the Last Post is played every evening at 8pm. The names of the 54,332 British, Irish and Commonwealth men who fell in the region during the First World War and have no known resting place are engraved on the monument.

“It was a terrific trip and very a very moving one,” Ken, who served in the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire regiment during the Second World War, told the Gazette.

“The visit to the Menin Gate was particularly emotional. I always shed a tear whenever I hear the Last Post.”

Ken, who also plans to attend the Islington Veterans Association’s D-Day memorial service on Islington Green next month, was part of the first wave of soldiers to land on the beaches of France on D-Day, and spoke of his pride of being able to see “where our forefathers fought and died”.

The Taxi Charity, also known as the London Taxi Benevolent Association for War Disabled, was founded in 1947 “to help the war disabled by providing entertainment, outings and much needed specialised equipment”.

Most Read

“It was a very moving trip,” Dick Goodwin, vice president of the charity, told the Gazette.

“A lot of the guys that came along have ancestors that were killed on these battlefields in the First World War and so it meant a lot for them to take this trip.”

The trips are funded by members of the public through donations, many of which are collected by veterans.

The memorial service on Islington Green will take place at 10.30am on June 6. To find out more, visit

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter