Posts Tagged ‘remembrance’

Celebrities fall silent for Remembrance Day #TwoMinuteSilence video

November 9th, 2015

The Royal British Legion released a celebrity-filled video reminding members of the public about the two minutes silence taking place on November 11th.

Jools Holland, Lord Sugar, Jessica Ennis and Olly Murrs are all notable people to appear in the 2minute video.

The Royal British Legion said they were “please to welcome the support of host of famous faces.”

Jessica Ennis appears on Remembrance video

Remembrance Day is commemorated every year at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – remembering all those who gave their lives in war.


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Remembrance Sunday: Queen leads nation in tribute to the fallen

November 8th, 2015

Dressed in her customary all-black ensemble with a clutch of scarlet poppies pinned against her left shoulder, she stepped forward following the end of the two-minute silence marked by the sounding of Last Post by 10 Royal Marine buglers.

The Queen laid her wreath at the foot of the Sir Edwin Lutyens Portland stone monument to the Glorious Dead, then stood with her head momentarily bowed.

In recent days, she has discussed her own family’s loss in the First World War, specifically her uncle, Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon, killed in northern France in 1915 and whose body has never been recovered. But after seven decades mourning the losses from so many conflicts at that exact spot, who knows what ghosts flitted though her thoughts.

Queen Elizabeth II at the Cenotaph for the 2015 Remembrance Service

She was joined by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, who was invited to the Cenotaph for the first time to lay a wreath marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands by British troops.

Watched by his wife Queen Maxima, who stood next to the Duchess of Cambridge in the Royal Box, the King laid a wreath marked with the simple message, “In remembrance of the British men and women who gave their lives for our future.”

Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Queen Maxima of the Netherland and Sophie Countess Wessex at the Cenotaph

His was not the only debut at the Cenotaph. So too, the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, who wore both suit and (red) poppy for the occasion.

His bow as he laid a wreath marked with the words “let us resolve to create a world of peace” was imperceptible – and not enough for some critics. Yet unlike the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Battle commemorations earlier this year, Mr Corbyn did join in with the singing of the national anthem.

Remebrance Day The DUke of York, Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge

Later he attended a separate remembrance service at a war memorial in Manor Gardens in his north Islington constituency. Mr Corbyn arrived at the event with his dark blue tie switched to red and accompanied by his wife, Laura Alvarez. After a short speech in which he spoke of the “trauma” of Remembrance Day and honouring the fallen, Mr Corbyn read Futility, written by another of the Great War poets, Wilfred Owen.

Quietly watching among the small crowd was Islington resident and 90-year-old D Day veteran Ken Watts. Then just a teenager, Watts was among the first wave to land on the Normandy beaches with the Devonshire Regiment. Until that day he had never seen a dead body, but then a friend was gunned down standing right next to him.

“I am here to remember the people who died fighting for their country,” he says. As for Mr Corbyn’s views on the futility of war, he didn’t wish to be drawn. “He can discuss it all he wants but he wasn’t there, and I was,” he added.

Of course, honouring those who were there, in whichever of this country’s many conflicts they served, was what yesterday’s events were all about.

The Duke of Edinburgh - Remembrance Day

Following the end of the official service at the Cenotaph, the Massed Bands stirred, the notes from their pipes and drums bouncing off the grand buildings of Whitehall, and a mammoth procession more than 10,000-strong (9,000 of whom were veterans) began marching up from Horse Guard’s Parade.

As they passed they were saluted by the Duke of Cambridge who attended in his RAF Flight Lieutenant’s uniform. Earlier in proceedings, he had laid a wreath at the same time as Prince Harry – wearing the Captain’s uniform of the Blues and Royals – and the Duke of York. It was the first time members of the Royal family have done so ensemble in order to shave minutes off an already long ceremony for the more elderly veterans.

Time takes its inevitable toll on even the most stoic among us, and this year only a dozen World War Two veterans marched with the Spirit of Normandy Trust, a year after the Normandy Veterans’ Association disbanded.

Within their ranks was 95-year-old former Sapper Don Sheppard of the Royal Engineers. Sheppard was of the eldest on parade and was pushed in his wheelchair by his 19-year-old grandson, Sam, who in between studying at Queen Mary University volunteers with the Normandy veterans.

“It is because of my admiration for them,” he says. “I see them as role models and just have the upmost respect for what they did.”

While some had blankets covering their legs against the grey November day, other veterans of more recent wars had only stumps to show for their service to this country during 13 long years of war in Afghanistan.

As well as that terrible toll of personal sacrifice, the collective losses – and triumphs – of some of the country’s most historic regiments were also honoured yesterday.

The Gurkha Brigade Association – marking 200 years of service in the British Army – marched to warm ripples of applause. The King’s Royal Hussars, represented yesterday by 126 veterans, this year also celebrate 300 years since the regiment was raised

They were led by General Sir Richard Shirreff, former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of Nato and Colonel of the regiment who himself was marching for the first time.

“We are joined by a golden thread to all those generations who have gone before us,” he said. “We are who we are, because of those that have gone before us.”


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Store removes Remembrance Day display depicting dead soldier after complaints

November 8th, 2015

He told the Manchester Evening News: “As someone who is ex-forces, I found it in pretty bad taste.

“Everything done by the Royal British Legion is very professional and respectful.

“For someone who has served and seen casualties on the battlefield, or a family member who has lost someone, to walk and see that could really trigger stress. I’m glad it was changed.”

Another person tweeted: “How anybody ever thought this was a good idea at @asda needs their head testing. Absolutely disgusting.”

But some people thought it should have been retained.

Andy Kay wrote on Facebook: “Removed a fallen soldier poppy statue because it offended people. Well it’s removal offends me.”

The Remembrance Poppy by numbers

Prince Harry and Duke of Edinburgh visit Field of Remembrance

And Derek Hanstock said: “Cowards! It’s disgusting that you have removed the poppy display. I’ve spent my last penny in any Asda.”

An Asda spokeswoman said the display was intended as a mark of respects.

She said: “We’re proud to support the Poppy Appeal in our stores across the UK and have been welcoming volunteers from the Royal British Legion into our stores to sell remembrance poppies.

“Our colleagues have been holding fundraising activities in stores to support the Poppy Appeal and it was not our intention to cause offence with the poppy display at the Harpurhey store.

“There were a couple of complaints about the use of the mannequin within the display so a decision was made to remove the mannequin but leave the rest of the display and poppies standing.”


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Voices of Remembrance: Veterans of World War Two describe their experiences

November 7th, 2015

Ammunition was limited though and pilots like Mr Farnes could only fire for around fifteen seconds in total before they ran out of bullets. “You would come down (on an enemy plane) have a quick burst of four or five seconds and then possibly break away and have a look round,” said Mr Farnes, “and if it was clear you’d go back and have another go.”

Laurie Weeden was also a pilot but his plane was a glider, flown into occupied France on D-Day. In the back of his Horsa glider he carried a jeep and an anti tank gun to be used by the Allies to recapture Northern France. “Ahead of us we could see the bombing of the Merville Battery,” he says, describing the coastal fortifications the Germans had set up to defend the coast, “ a line of tracer went up in front of us and as it hadn’t hit me I presumed it was (aimed for) the chap ahead of me. Or perhaps it was a German aiming at me and was not a very good shot.”

David Burke

Having trained with the Post Office before the war, David Burke arrived in Normandy as a signals sergeant on ‘D-Day + 2’, attached to Canadian forces.

In the subsequent advance through northern Germany, he witnessed Bergen-Belsen.

‘I’ll tell you about concentration camps: if you’re downwind of it, it can sicken you. You never forget the smell.’

Servicemen and women from the two World Wars and later conflicts will be remembered on Sunday at memorial services across the country, with the main service taking place at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London.


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Prince Harry and Duke of Edinburgh visit Field of Remembrance

November 6th, 2015

The Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Harry have paid tribute to Britain’s fallen soldiers by opening Westminster Abbey’s Field of Remembrance.

Both Philip and Harry laid their crosses of remembrance in front of two wooden crosses from the graves of unknown British soldiers from the First and Second World Wars.

Prince Harry meets members of the armed forces and veterans during a Service in the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey (Getty)

The Last Post was played before a two-minute silence. The prince and his grandfather then walked around plots containing more than 100,000 crosses and chatted to veterans and families of those who had lost loved ones.

The Duke wore his Royal Navy day ceremonial uniform and an overcoat, while Harry wore his Blues and Royals frock coat.


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Ex-Royal Marine in military dress attacked after Remembrance Sunday service

November 12th, 2014

Members of his family are with him, including his wife Margaret, and three children.

Labour councillors and friends have spoken of their shock and upset.

Bradford Council leader David Green, who has visited Mr Niland in hospital, said: “He is clearly not in good physical shape. His face is badly cut and bruised and there was some concern about possible internal bleeding.

“But he was still typically Tony and keen to get out of hospital. He said he had been walking to get a cab when he was attacked by three young men.

“I was told by his family he was found unconscious on the ground. He was wearing the suit and tie he had worn to the Remembrance service, a poppy and war medals.”

Councillor Green added: “There are many people in Bradford who will know Tony and who Tony has assisted over the years, either in his political role or as a member of the community.

“He has always had time for everybody and anybody, and anyone who has information that will help police catch the people who carried out this cowardly attack, I urge to come forward, or contact me and I will make sure it gets passed on to the police.”

Imran Khan, another councillor, visited Mr Niland in hospital on Tuesday afternoon and said: “He’s in quite a bad way, but he was surprisingly upbeat and taking what has happened in his stride.

“He is a very courageous man and anybody else wouldn’t have dealt with it as well as he has.”

Councillor Khan added: “He told me he was set upon by three people as he walked with his stick, innocently minding his own business. It is a disgraceful and cowardly act.

“I can’t believe someone would do that but Tony said he didn’t want anyone to take retribution for what happened to him. He wants the police to deal with it in the usual way.”

Councillor Ruth Billheimer said she had spoken to Mr Niland’s wife, Margaret, who said her husband had been attacked.

She said: “He is an ill man to begin with. You wouldn’t want that to happen to anybody, but he was the worst person in the world for it to happen to because it has triggered these reactions. It’s really sad he has this underlying condition which means it’s far more serious for him.

“It was a shock when I heard about it. People who know him are very upset.”

Mr Niland served for 10 years as a Labour councillor in the Wyke and Bowling wards on Bradford Council, and was the party’s deputy chief whip and deputy chairman of West Yorkshire Fire Authority.

He lost his seat in 2006, but remained active within the Labour group.

Before his political career, he served with the Royal Marines and had several spells of duty in Northern Ireland.

He is a staunch attender of the Remembrance Sunday service. He also worked at the Sunblest bakery in Bradford and was a shop steward and union convenor.

Acting Sergeant Vikki Tyrell, from West Yorkshire Police, said: “We are investigating a report of an alleged assault in Piccadilly, which is believed to have occurred around 9pm on Sunday, November 9.”


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Gang rips medals from army veteran on his way to Remembrance Sunday service

November 11th, 2014

Mr Gill had been walking through Lund Park, Keighley, as he has done for years, at 9.15am on Sunday when the attack happened.

He was wearing his khaki beret, navy blue blazer, maroon and grey striped tie – all three of which bore the regimental badge and the motto ‘Victory Favours the Brave’, with a poppy pinned to his chest and the United Nations Cyprus and Northern Ireland medals on his right lapel.

Mr Gill only recently returned home from hospital following an operation to fit stents in his heart and he is currently on 13 tablets a day for his condition.

He said: “I was walking to the cenotaph in the centre of town for Remembrance Sunday, the same route I have taken every year for as long as I can recall.

“I’d stopped in Lund Park to look at the embers of a fire which had been lit near a sign when out of nowhere I was grabbed or hit from behind.

“My beret was knocked off my head and I stumbled to the ground. I tried to stay on my feet because I didn’t know what would happen if I went to ground.

“I had not seen the gang of about six to eight Asian lads before this and I think they had been hiding in bushes.

“I had not seen or heard them or done anything to intimidate them. They were laughing and joking and speaking in a foreign language, not in English, so I don’t know what they were saying.

“I was shaken and couldn’t understand what was happening. They had taken my beret as a trophy and they were tearing it at like a pack of dogs with a piece of meat. They thought it was funny.”

Mr Gill said that the gang “ran off laughing and joking” out of the park near the bowling green, before he realised his medals were also missing.

“My poppy had been ragged at but they had not managed to steal that,” he said.

“My lip was cut and I was shaken. I can only think I was targeted because of what I was wearing because it was not a mugging or robbery, because I had £200 in cash on me and they didn’t take that or ask for money.”

Mr Gill, who lives alone about 200 yards from the Lund Park gates, said the gang were aged 16-17 years old and he did not recognise any of them.

He dusted himself down and continued his walk to the cenotaph for the 11am act of remembrance.

“There I met my nephew and I told him what had happened and he told me to report it to the police. I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it, but I thought I should report it to prevent anybody else being harmed,” said Mr Gill, who attends monthly regimental meetings at the local Territorial Army Centre.

“After the Remembrance Sunday service I got home at noon and went straight to bed, I was that upset.”

Mr Gill joined up in 1966 and rose from Private to Sergeant until he left following 18 years’ service.

He then got a job in security. He served in Cyprus, Hong Kong, Japan, Gibraltar, Malaysia, and Northern Ireland, where he lost comrades.

He has lived near Lund Park for 60 years and has seen its gradual decline.

“It really has deteriorated. It used to have tennis courts and people played football there, the duck pond has gone and fires are being lit. The bowling green and pavilion have high security fencing to protect them from vandalism,” said Mr Gill.

“I used to have no fears about walking through the park, but I am now reluctant to use it – but if I don’t continue to go in they have won, haven’t they?”

Mr Gill said some of the gang were wearing hoodies, but because of the suddenness and shock of the attack he could not describe them in any better detail.

“I want my medals back, I was proud to earn them and wear them. I also want my beret back, but I think that has probably been torn to bits,” he said.

Inspector Sue Sanderson, who leads the Keighley Area Neighbourhood Team, said: “We would appeal to anyone who saw a group of Asian youths acting suspiciously in the park at around the time of this incident, or anyone who may have seen them leaving the park afterwards.

“We believe there would have been other people around at the time, perhaps also making their way to the Remembrance Day service.”

The police are treating the crime as a robbery, and Insp Sanderson added that although Mr Gill was not injured, “the victim is understandably shaken by the loss of his beret and his medals”.

Edited by Melanie Hall.


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Remembrance Day poems: 10 poems for the fallen

November 5th, 2014

Read full poem

The Soldier – Rupert Brooke

During the First World War, Brooke joined the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, and died of an infection in 1915 en route to Gallipoli. The most famous lines from his poem The Soldier are often read in remembrance of those who die far from home fighting for their country, suggesting that soldiers take a part of their home nation with them to the grave.

If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is for ever England.

Read full poem

Drummer Hodge – Thomas Hardy

Hardy’s Drummer Hodge uses a similar device to Brooke’s The Soldier. It was written before Brooke’s more famous lines, however, and was composed by Hardy in 1899 in response to the Anglo-Boer War. It focuses on the very young British drummers – usually boys in their early teens – who accompanied soldiers into battle overseas and faced death alongside them.

Yet portion of that unknown plain

Will Hodge for ever be;

His homely Northern breast and brain

Grow to some Southern tree,

And strange-eyed constellations reign

His stars eternally.

Read full poem

In Flanders Fields – John McRae

Written in 1915 from the perspective of dead soldiers lying in their graves, John McRae’s poem urges the reader to avenge slaughtered men’s deaths. Almost as soon as it was written, the poem became hugely popular and was used in motivational posters and armed forces recruitment leaflets across Britain and North America during the First World War. As the first war poem to refer to poppies as a symbol of remembrance, the poem is still read across the world on Remembrance Day.

McRae was a Canadian doctor and Lieutenant Colonel in the First World War, fighting and overseeing medical care in Boulogne with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He died of pneumonia on the battlefield in January 1918.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Read full poem

Charge of the Light Brigade – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

This narrative poem about the noted battle in the Crimean war was written by Tennyson in 1854. It has become one of the defining war poems, capturing the thrill of battle as well as the futility of conflict and the brutal reality of fighting. It was widely popular at the time, and one couplet in particular has passed into the vernacular: “Theirs not to reason why,/ Theirs but to do and die”.

When can their glory fade?

O the wild charge they made!

All the world wonder’d.

Honour the charge they made!

Read full poem

And Death Shall Have No Dominion – Dylan Thomas

Written between the wars in 1933, Thomas’s poem takes on a broad theme of remembrance and the eternity of the human spirit.

They shall have stars at elbow and foot;

Though they go mad they shall be sane,

Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;

Though lovers be lost love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion.

Read full poem

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death – WB Yeats

Yeats’s poem in the voice of an Irish airman doesn’t glorify fighting – in fact, speaking as the soldier, he says, “Those that I fight I do not hate,/ Those that I guard I do not love”. Instead it’s a measured meditation on being in the firing line during war, and being drawn to “a tumult in the clouds”.

The years to come seemed waste of breath,

A waste of breath the years behind

In balance with this life, this death.

Read full poem

Adlestrop – Edward Thomas

Edward Thomas chose to enlist in the Artists Rifles in 1915. Though not much of his poetry deals explicitly with war, the war is often referred to obliquely. Adlestrop is a haunting portrait of the quiet calm of England, in contrast to the horrific fighting taking place abroad, as remembered by Thomas when his train made a stop in the Cotswolds just before war broke out in 1914. Thomas was killed in action at Arras on Easter Monday, April 1917. Adlestrop was published soon afterwards.

And for that minute a blackbird sang

Close by, and round him, mistier,

Farther and farther, all the birds

Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Read full poem

MCMXIV – Philip Larkin

Larkin’s heartbreakingly poignant poem reflects on the patriotic optimism of the young men queueing up to enlist in 1914. The poem was written in 1964, when some critical distance from both wars had been reached. In the wake of colossal destruction, Larkin looks back with devastatingly sharp hindsight at the doomed notion that war would be akin to “an August Bank Holiday lark” for those about to fight.

Never such innocence,

Never before or since,

As changed itself to past

Without a word – the men

Leaving the gardens tidy,

The thousands of marriages,

Lasting a little while longer:

Never such innocence again.

Read full poem

Hear Larkin reading MCMXIV

Dulce et Decorum Est – Wilfred Owen

Owen’s poem Dulce et Decorum Est, written during the First World War, was published posthumously in 1920. It brings vividly to life the desperate human misery of warfare, condemning and raging against the “lie” that war is noble. Owen served on the front line in the Manchester Regiment, suffering severe shell shock, and was killed in action on November 4 1918. His mother was informed of his death on Armistice Day, seven days later.

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est

Pro patria mori.

Read full poem


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The best remembrance and battlefield tours

August 6th, 2014

Travelling over 450 miles along the Western Front from the Belgian coast to the border of Switzerland, the seven- or nine-day itinerary includes the vestiges of several battlefields: memorials, cemeteries, trenches and museums. The seven-day tour, departing on August 25, is now reduced to £499 (from £620), while the nine-day tour (which allows more time in Nancy and Reims) departs on various dates between April and September 2015, from £799, including coach travel.


British troops go over the top during the Battle of the Somme

3. Corners of a Foreign Field
Titan (0800 988 5823; titantravel.co.uk).

With four nights in Lille, this tour focuses on the Flanders battlefields and Ypres and Passchendaele between 1914 and 1917. Two expert guides accompany the tour, Rhydian Vaughan (a former Welsh Guards officer and war historian) and Barrie Friend. Limited places are currently available on the September 18 tour, but there are plenty of other departures until October 2015. Prices start at £895 including coach travel.

4. First Ypres and the Christmas Truce
Holt Tours (01293 865000; holts.co.uk).

This wintertime itinerary is guided by an expert First World War lecturer, Simon Jones, who explains the gruelling, month-long First Battle of Ypres, including the Christmas Truce, examining the conflicting accounts of the famous football match and whether it really took place. The three-day tour departs on December 12 2014, and costs from £535 with Eurotunnel crossing.

5. Bruges and The Battlefields of Ypres
Great Rail Journeys (01904 891215; greatrail.com).

A leisurely itinerary allows plenty of time to explore the sights of Bruges, however, the third day packs in the key monuments of Ypres, including Tyne Cot Cemetery, the Bayernwald trenches and the “In Flanders Fields” museum. The five-day tour departs on September 7, 14, 28 and October 19, 2014 (note that availability is limited for September 14 departure). Prices from £495 including travel by Eurostar.

6. Battlefield Weekend
Back Roads Touring (020 8987 0990; backroadstouring.co.uk).

An insight into the major involvement of British and Commonwealth forces is compressed into three days and aims to give participants an understanding of strategies at the Somme, Villers-Bretonneux and Vimy Ridge. The three-day tour departs on various dates from September to October 2014 and from April to October 2015. Prices from £595, excluding travel from the UK.

7. Western Front and Ypres
Bartletts Battlefield Journeys (01507 523128; battlefields.co.uk).

These all-inclusive, tailor-made tours to the Western Front and Ypres are planned around the requirements and interests of individual guests (outline itineraries are available), in groups of up to seven people. Tours depart regularly until mid-December 2014 and cost from £845 (for three days).

8. First World War Battlefields
Insight Vacations (0800 533 5622; insightvacations.com).

Starting in Paris, the itinerary includes a visit to Flanders and the Ypres Salient (including Hill 60, Polygon Wood, Tyne Cot Cemetery and the Last Post sounded at the Menin Gate). It continues to the Somme and a visit to the Franco-British memorial at Thiepval. The four-day tour departs on various dates until mid-October 2014, and costs from £685 per person, excluding travel to Paris.

9. First and Last Shots: Mons in the First World War
Battlefield Breaks (02920 761379; battlefield-breaks.com).

This tour examines the beginning and end of the Great War, from the first shots fired by Corporal Thomas of the British Army to the canal and battlefield east of Mons where the final casualty fell. The four-day tour departs on September 19 and October 30, 2014, and costs from £279 including coach travel.

10. The Somme and Ypres
Somme Battlefield Tours (01202 880211; battlefield-tours.com).

Discover the battlefields at your own pace on a self-drive, tailor-made tour with a detailed guide of the key sites, road directions and historical information, including original trench maps, battlefield diagrams, panoramic and aerial photographs and descriptions. Hotels, sea crossing and local, English-speaking guides can also be arranged. The tours are available throughout the year and prices depend on individual requirements.


Britain declared war on Germany 100 years ago this week

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This article was first published on November 10, 2013, and updated in full, with new recommendations, on August 5, 2014.


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