On Thursday 11th November, a small team from RHQ REME and HQ London District, led by Colonel REME and the Corps Secretary, began a very busy weekend of Corps remembrance with a visit to this year’s Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey. The many hundreds of personalised commemorations, delivered to RHQ REME from individuals and units worldwide, were arranged in the Corps plot in a distinctive “80” design which drew a lot of positive attention and comment from the many visitors and passers-by.
Her Majesty The Queen Consort, Patron of the Poppy Factory, attended the ceremony and reviewed all plots alongside Lt Gen James Bashall, President of the Royal British Legion.
Saturday 12th November then saw the hundreds of REME veterans and families, travelling from across the United Kingdom and Europe, descend upon London to attend the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall and to prepare for the annual Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph the following day. We were very proud and fortunate to see our National Standard Bearer, Malcolm “Barney” Barnes, selected to take part in proceedings at the Festival of Remembrance, where he proudly flew the Corps standard sporting a new “REME 80” scroll.
Remembrance Sunday started very early with many braving London traffic and a very “flexible” National Rail service to make the 0830hrs RV and form up at Horse Guards. In due course, and almost on time(!), the largest ever REME Association contingent, of almost 100 veterans, took their place near the front of the procession with the 30 strong contingent from the Arborfield Apprentices also taking a similar, prominent position nearby. At 1005hrs we stepped off smartly to take our place on Whitehall, halting directly outside Number 10.
His Majesty the King’s arrival prompted the two-minute silence which was perfectly observed by the many thousands of spectators and veterans completely filling Whitehall and every possible vantage point along the way.
The March Past followed with the cheers and applause of the crowds adding an extra dose of pride and spring to everyone’s step. His Majesty the King took the Royal Salute at the Cenotaph with His Royal Highness, the Earl of Wessex, taking the final salute as we arrived back on Horse Guards Parade.
Of particular note on the day was the attendance of the Allcock family, father Keith and sons Gary and Neil, marching together for the first time at the Cenotaph having completed 103 years of service between them. A remarkable record that I think is unlikely to be surpassed in our lifetimes! We all thank you for your service.
In all, a weekend of many emotions but one which saw the Corps Family come together to remember and celebrate the memory of those who went before us. Arte et Marte.
“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.”
Scribe: Major (Retired) Geordie Wright-Rivers
This article will be published in the next issue of The Craftsman, REME’s official magazine.
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