The bitter wind did not stop several hundreds appearing at the memorial to pay their respects. How many came to pay respects and how many came to see their family member parade is of course never clear however a good number turned up on a bitterly cold afternoon.
George Osborne's austerity cutbacks threatened us with a shortage of police to close the road however an abundant of officers were detailed to a bigger parade in another town in the morning and several were detailed to support us. A delightful young policewoman informed me of this while complaining of freezing to death in the middle of the road. I say delightful but remain in no doubt had she the need she would break me in a moment! Never trust a woman!
The local MP, a friend of Boris, attended in spite of his fear Boris might get dumped and his chances of a minister role evaporating. He does have the right to the medals however. All the proper dignitaries were there as is right, what goes through their minds, especially those who have served in conflict at some stage?
Young and old from a variety of services always turn out, not all in uniform. The active ATC in the town has many members and those who I have spoken to always appear to have a positive future in the RAF in years to come. I suspect however it will not be a peaceful one while if we have peace at home conflict will be available somewhere in the world.
The expressions on the young are always worth watching. Most appear confused as to what is going on yet obey the commands on offer, though the flag bearers had to he instructed to lower their flag at the right time, I hope they lifted them again. Several groups of what we used to call Cubs and Scouts but now have a variety of different names were in attendance each and everyone wishing 'Long Johns' were back in fashion.
One thing I would like brought into the service is a mention of two or three names from the memorial. We had this in church in the morning as three names of those living nearby who fell were read out in our short service. I think it brings home to the public that the names are people, not just names.
E. Thorogood for instance joined up early and was turned down because of his youth, by 1918 he fell with the Machine Gun Corps during Ludendorff's Great and failing 'Push.' W. Saward was a dyer at the silk factory but by October 1915 he was 'presumed dead' at Loos. H.C. Simms was the unluckiest of all, the wireless operator on the S.S. Gitano they were headed for the Baltic during December after the war had ended and never arrived. It being presumed the ship hit a mine and disappeared and has never been found.
Over two hundred names from one war and around ninety from another but they are not just names they were people. I think the names ought to be mentioned each year after all some standing there may fall in the course of their duty the same way.
This excellent chap flies Apache Helicopters and is based quite near as often two of these noisy machines pass overhead the noise heard for miles around. These cannot be equated with stealth aircraft! I asked for a picture of his medals for the war memorial as I want such on the memorial to indicate something of the service many have offered. I did not ask his name nor about the medals as he had friends there and I did not wish to hold him up. These indicate a variety of operations, often under UN control and I note in particular Northern Ireland and Yugoslavia.
For thirty years we sent men to be shot in the back or blown up in Northern Ireland and yet to attain peace Tony Blair allowed members of the IRA Provos to be given 'Letters of Comfort' which meant these men, often men who had killed, could walk the streets free from justice. However now the police are investigating every killing by soldiers and police in Northern Ireland to see if a crime has occurred. How can murdering Provos walk free while those who risked their lives to end the conflict are threatened with jail? It is clear some rough men served in the army, it is clear things did occur that ought not to occur, it is also clear that war is a dangerous game and politicians who send men to war must be willing to take that blame instead of allowing their soldiers to take that blame.
Our soldiers deserve better.