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Remembrance Service 11 November 2017-British Cemetery in Elvas

Articles and Photos shared by Jackie Kennard

 

British, Portuguese and Spanish residents gathered in the British Cemetery in Elvas on 11th November to remember the 60,000 British and their Allies who fell during the Peninsular War.

Welcoming Address by Stewart Streeting – 1st Battalion The Queen’s Regiment and 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.

Good morning and once again thank you for attending. As always I am honoured to stand here with you, remembering our combined pasts and our brave military men and women who in the service of each of our Countries gave up their futures so that we could enjoy our present.

Let us take a moment and acknowledge any of those amongst us who has lost someone in the military being family or friend. As it doesn’t matter how much time has passed, no words can even begin to adequately console the grief. I, as we all, have the greatest gratitude for their contributions and sacrifices, we are proud to honour and remember them.

Those service men and women who have given their lives are without a doubt heroes. In the past many volunteered and many were conscripted but no matter how they found their way into the military, each one took it upon themselves to serve loyally and to the best of their ability.

This is admirable in countries where, from so many people, really so few have put on the uniform and accepted the inherent risks both in past times and in the world as is today. This alone makes them heroes worthy of remembrance.

These men and women were not just military they were real people, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives. They loved and were loved, and they will be missed.

We remember those who selflessly lost their lives by going above and beyond but their brave actions without a doubt saved the lives of their comrades.

Like the actions of Lance Corporal John Harman VC of the 4th Battalion The Queen’s Own Royal West Kents. On the 8/9 April 1944 at the Battle of Kohima in British India he was commanding a section of a forward platoon. Within 50 meters in front of them, soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army had established a machine gun post and were becoming a bit of a pain to say the least.

Due to the proximity it was not possible to bring fire on to the enemy post so he went forward alone and threw a grenade into the position, destroying it. He returned to his lines carrying the enemy machine gun. Early the next morning, having ordered covering fire from his Bren gun team, he again went out alone, armed with his Lee-Enfield, fixed bayonet and charged a group of Japanese soldiers who were digging in. He shot four and bayoneted one, on his way back he was severely wounded by a burst of enemy machine gun fire and died soon after reaching British lines.

If it wasn’t for his brave, selfless actions we would without a doubt be here today remembering even more fallen heroes.

I would ask that when you leave here and go about the rest of your day you keep the fallen in your minds, keep their families and friends in your hearts, for it is their vast collective sacrifices that have helped keep our Countries, our families, our children safe.

10:58 hrs – Bugler “Last Post”

The Last Post is a final farewell, symbolising the fact that the duties of the dead soldiers are now over and that they can rest in peace. It begins the period of silent reflection.

Two minutes silence

11:02 hrs – Bugler “Reveille”

Reveille ends the period of silent reflection and is from the French word ‘Reveillez’ meaning “Wake up”. Its purpose is to wake up the sleeping soldiers.The two tunes symbolise sunset and sunrise respectively, and therefore, death and resurrection.

Poem “The Inquisitive mind of a child” written by John F Willcock – Read by Phyllida Hallidie

 

Wreath Layers

Stewart invited anyone else wishing to lay a Remembrance cross or posy, to do so now.

Poem – “Lest We Forget” Written by Owen Griffiths – Read by Anton Herzog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Prayers and Blessing – Reverend Frank Sawyer
 

Reverend Frank Sawyer spoke about the importance of connecting to the memory of war through stories.The stories may be personal or become personally meaningful as they are shared with us. He shared his own experience of his great-grandfather whom he remembered as a veteran of the First World War. What struck him, as a young boy, was that he had a pinned up trouser leg from the loss of his leg in the war from a shrapnel wound. It was because he saw his leg and learned his story that the importance of Remembrance Day began for him and grew from there. He said it is difficult for us to connect with something such as war in the abstract and as an event that happened long ago.  However, the memory of war becomes real for us when we can connect emotionally with the real stories of those who fought and died. He said that we must share these stories with our children today so that they will understand the sacrifices made in war as well as the destructive power of war so that we may strive for peace.   

End of Ceremony

 

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