Posts Tagged ‘tribute’

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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Prince Harry meets veterans and pays tribute to bomb disposal experts during service at St Pauls

October 26th, 2015

In a poignant address, Mr Kirkpatrick told the congregation: “It is extremely difficult to put into words what Jamie’s loss has meant to us, his family and his many friends.

Prince Harry arrives at St.Pauls (AP)

“We recall many family celebrations and events that would, under normal circumstances, be a source of happiness, but which are now inevitably a source of sadness too.

“We continue to reflect on all the ongoing events that he is now not around to witness and therefore seem somehow incomplete.”

Cpl Kirkpatrick was born in Edinburgh and lived in Llanelli in South Wales. Harry spoke to his family, including his young daughter Polly, at the end of the service.

Wearing a blue civilian suit with three medals pinned to his chest, Harry also spoke to former servicemen badly injured while serving in the forces.

They included Sappers Clive Smith, 30, from Walsall in the West Midlands, and Jack Cummings, 27, from Didcot in Oxfordshire. Both men lost their legs on a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Mr Smith said he chatted with Harry about the Prince’s Invictus Games for injured servicemen, having taken part last year in the handcycling events.

“He is always very approachable and interested in what you have to say,” Mr Smith said.

Harry meets former bomb-disposal personnell at St.Pauls (Getty)

Discussing the service, he said: “It was quite emotional. It brings back memories of events you would rather forget but it was a very good service.”

Serving and retired members of the EOD community will deliver accounts of the conflicts and the part played by EOD units.

Officially formed in October 1940, the original Royal Engineers bomb disposal unit played an important role in the Second World War, dealing with tens of thousands of unexploded bombs in the UK and overseas.

Since then, bomb disposal has expanded from the Royal Engineers to function across the armed forces.

Mr Holland, best known for his long-running BBC Two music programme, has been honorary Colonel of the 101 Engineer Regiment since 2012.

Prince Harry leaves St.Pauls (PA)

He told the congregation that from its origins in the Second World War “this story of human courage is set in such contrast to the evil of indiscriminate destruction; and of the danger of unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices, and mines that remain such a threat to life and limb.”

He added: “The story of the men and women who have worked in explosive ordnance disposal is the story of teamwork and bravery, and often of great personal cost and the ultimate sacrifice.”

He also said it was important to remember we had once been “on the other side” and offer remembrance for German civilians who “still live with the legacy of our own weapons dropped in towns and cities that we once targeted for destruction in the battle against tyranny.”


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