Posts Tagged ‘Sunday’

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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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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