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Leader Magazine
SUMMER 1963.
by J/Pte STOCKLE, B Company.
At six o'clock on the evening of Friday, 23rd May, I left Gatwick Airport for Lourdes, to take part in the pilgrimage of NATO troops. Three hours later I landed in Tarbes Airport which is ten miles outside Lourdes. From here a French luxury coach took me to my hotel. At the hotel I had a meal and then went to bed. At 6.45 I was out of bed and enjoying breakfast which consisted of six large rolls and two cups of black coffee. After breakfast I went with the rest of the British contingent down to Mass at the Basilica. Here we had our rosaries and prayer books blessed. The rest of the morning was spent touring the town and sampling the local liqueurs and wines.
After lunch we took part in the Stations of the Cross. This was rather arduous, as it was all on a hill and each station was higher up. When this was over we went into a cafe away from the blazing sun and refreshed ourselves. When dinner was over we joined the large procession to the Grotto, singing the Ave Maria all the way. This was very impressive to see, as altogether there were forty thousand soldiers each with a lighted candle. On Sunday morning Mass was celebrated at the Grotto and all the sick people were blessed. We then had the rest of the day free until 6 o'clock when we flew from Tarbes back to Gatwick.





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