I was privileged to attend and lay a wreath on behalf of the shrievalty at two Remembrance Services and a Remembrance Ceremony.
On Friday 11th November I went to the Mayor of Farnham’s offices and joined Col. (Ret’d) Patrick Crowley MA MBE DL, (who was representing the Lord Lieutenant), the Mayor, members of the Armed Forces, members of the Royal British Legion and others in making the short walk to the War Memorial where 26 children with their teachers and some family members had gathered. Thirteen schools were represented with two children from each school. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, a two minute silence was duly observed. The Service included children reading poems they’d written, laying wreaths or planting small crosses in remembrance. It was good to see young children present at such an event and learning about why such Services take place. The whole Service was very well organised by the Town Clerk, Iain Lynch.
On the morning of Sunday 13th November the County Service for Remembrance Sunday took place at Guildford Cathedral. Colonel A.P. Guthrie TD DL represented the Lord Lieutenant. Wreaths were laid at the High Altar as the choir sang an Anthem written by John Gibson Lockhart (1794-1854) set to music by Charles Parry. The appropriate readings for the occasion were from 2 Thessalonians 3.6-13 and Luke 21.5-19, read respectively by Richard Hustler, Honorary Secretary of Surrey Yeomanry, and Colonel Guthrie. The famous and poignant poem written in 1915 by Canadian John McCrae (1872-1918), “In Flanders Fields”, was read by a member of the choir. The Very Reverend Diana Gwilliams, the Dean, led the Service. The Bishop of Dorking, The Right Reverend Jo Bailey Wells, gave a sermon that was perfectly crafted for this moving annual Service and for a time when our thoughts are upon the barbaric war in Ukraine.
A Remembrance Ceremony was held at the beautiful and immaculately kept Brookwood American Military Cemetery at 2pm on the same day, under the guidance of Matthew Brown ABMC Superintendent of Cambridge and Brookwood American Cemeteries. The Invocation and Benediction were by Padre Justin Bradbury of ATR, Pirbright. Martin Gerrard QPM DL represented the Lord Lieutenant and gave an address. The US Deputy Chief of Missions Matthew Palmer also spoke before many wreaths were laid. The Vice Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Lt.General (Ret’d) Sir Bill Rollo OCB CBE was present and laid a wreath. It was a mild afternoon, and under a blue sky the birds could be heard singing, with their song particularly noticeable during the two minute silence.
Remembering every November all who died in combat, or were seriously wounded, or who never recovered from the mental scars of their wartime experiences, whether they served in British, Commonwealth or American Forces, is always a moving and emotional,occasion. Most know of someone in their family or in its history who died serving their country, or know of others whose close relatives were killed or badly injured. They must never be forgotten and we should all hope for peace.