They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.1
On Sunday, 11 November 2012, shipmates of Huntingdon & District Branch, the Royal Naval Association, joined veterans from the Royal Marines, Army and Air Force, for the annual Remembrance Day Parade at the Huntingdon War Memorial. The day began with members of the Armed Forces, veterans, uniformed services personnel, local institutions, and representatives from local cadet forces, gathering at the Market Hill car park prior to marching to the memorial at Market Hill. As with last year, the sun was shining brightly, although, there was still a little chill in the air, but not a bad day for the middle of November.
Once the band and all the participating organisations had formed up, the parade marched into Market Hill and took their allotted places around the War Memorial. Shortly before the 11th hour, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Col Derek Bristow OBE DL, the Mayor of Huntingdon, Cllr Colin Hyams, representatives from Huntingdon Council, the Commanding Officer of RAF Wyton, Wg Cdr Mike Brown MBE, and Col Michael Reiner, 423rd Air Base Group Commander, entered the town square and took their places in front of the Memorial.2
The Mayor’s Chaplain, Reverend Andrew Milton, welcomed all participants and residents gathered around the memorial, he then gave the ‘Act of Remembrance’ at the 11th hour. The two minute silence followed. A Veteran from the Royal British Legion recited the inscription as inscribed on the War Memorial in Kohima, Inda:
When you go home
tell them of us and say –
For your tomorrow
we gave our today3
After these words, the bugler sounded ‘Reveille’; it was then time for the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire to lay the first wreath. Once the VIP’s had laid their wreaths, Shipmate Ben Dear placed a wreath on behalf of the Huntingdon & District Branch, which was then followed by representatives of each organisation in attendance laying theirs.
The Reverend Andrew Milton continued with the service; a hymn and prayers were followed by the Blessing, before the last act, the singing of the National Anthem.
With the service complete, the parade was called to attention; the band took their post at the front of the Town Hall, each association was then directed into position before the parade left Market Square for the March Past (taken by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant).
Once the parade had made its way out of the town and had ‘fallen out’, those taking part had the opportunity to take up the Mayor’s invitation to ‘refreshments’ at the Town Hall. Some shipmates from Huntingdon & District Branch made their way to the Market Inn where we had a chance to spin a few dits with our fellow veterans, including serving members of the Royal Navy – Geoff Twigden’s son Gavin, and another ‘local’ serviceman, Andy Duthie.
Later that day, Huntingdon & District Branch represented the Royal Naval Association at an evening Service of Remembrance at the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Godmanchester. Before 1800, shipmates Karl Webb and Ben Dear took a taxi to Godmanchester, meeting up at Shipmate Pete Aston’s house before proceeding to St Mary’s Church, where we met up with shipmates Bill Small, Geoff Twigden, Nino Crean, and Geoff’s son Gavin.
It was the Royal Naval Association’s turn to lead the ‘Act of Remembrance’, as the newly elected Branch Secretary, this duty fell to Shipmate Karl Webb, with Pete Aston laying the wreath (supplied by RAFA).4 The service began with the ‘Priest-in-charge’,5 Reverend David Busk, welcoming everyone and then opening with the ‘bidding’. After hymns and prayers there was a ‘Reading’ by the Mayor of Godmanchester, Cllr Christopher Vane Percy.
The choir then sung a hymn, during which, the Reverend David Busk, his assistant, Shipmates Karl Webb and Pete Aston, and a representative from the Royal British Legion proceeded to the Memorial Altar. When in position, David began with the commemoration and read out the names of Godmanchester personnel killed during the First and Second World Wars. Shipmate Karl Webb then recited the Act of Remembrance which was followed by the laying of wreaths. The Last Post was then sounded.
The Remembrance party then proceeded to their seats for the continuation of the service. Some more hymns were sung and some final prayers before the singing of the National Anthem marked the end of the service.
After leaving the church, shipmates were invited to the Comrades Club in Godmanchester for drinks and a final chance to spin some more ‘dits’ before departing home.
- Laurence Binyon (2008) For the Fallen, The Guardian [online] Poem, ‘For The Fallen’ was first published in the Times on September 21 1914. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/14/for-the-fallen-laurence-binyon [accessed 15 November 2012]. [↩]
- Huntingdon District Council (2012) ‘Remembrance Sunday Service’, Service Programme. [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]
- The Parish Church of St Mary to Virgin (2012) ‘Service of Remembrance’, Service Programme. [↩]
- Paul Sibley (2012) ‘Contact Us’, The Parish Church of St Mary’s the Virgin [online] Official Website. Available from: http://www.stmarysgodmanchester.org/contact-us.php [accessed 15 November 2012]. [↩]