Thinking about Armed Forces Day, veterans, and The Cenotaph

It’s Armed Forces Day this coming Saturday. Sadly there’ll be no outdoor events for us to attend. As with everthing else nowdays, celebration events will be online.

I wonder if there will be armed forces veterans at The Cenotaph to ensure nothing untoward happens to it. Talking about veterans, our local veterans help group has changed its name to Veterans & Familes – Listening Project, same focus on helping to improve the day to day lives of veterans and families, now with a wider reach than just Surrey Heath.

Now, a dreadful admission from me about my knowledge of the Cenotaph. I didn’t know the word ‘cenotaph’ derives from the Greek for ‘empty tomb’. The Cenotaph has a closed empty tomb at the top  surmounted with a large laurel wreath.

With the decision not to repatriate the war dead of World War 1, and to bury them close to where they fell, a national memorial was needed as a focal point to the nations’s commemoration of those killed and affected by war. Hence the Cenotaph, designedby Sir Edwin Lutyens. English Heritage, who look after the memorial, say of its design,

Lutyens’s austere and dignified design for the Cenotaph rejected imagery, bombast and religious symbolism. Its timeless, non-denominational form has ensured its relevance to all the dead of the Empire and to audiences ever since. Its message was one of the universality of grief and the human cost of victory.

The memorial is regularly cleaned, and every 10-15years goes through a period of conservation. A feature of Lutyens design is that it does not shed water well at its top, resulting in the empty tomb and wreath becoming saturated with water, attracting biological growth. The Cenotaph was last given a renovation in 2013, such that the Portland stone at the top is now of a light colour.

Here are a couple of historic photos, and a couple more recent ones, where the difference after conservation can be clearly seen.

The Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in 2010.

Grenadier Guards parade at Aldershot’s Armed Forces Day

Desiring to celebrate our Armed Forces we chose Aldershot’s Armed Forces Day to see the parade by the Grenadier Guards.

The parade arrived at Princes Hall for an inspection of the troops, prior to a march round the centre of Aldershot. Billed as a celebration and Family Day, after the parade, and having changed their busbies Bearskins for caps, the troops enjoyed music at the bandstand in Princes Gardens.

Here are some photos of the event and a short video of the troops parading.

Video of the Freedom Parade for the 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment

In my previous article about our attending the Freedom Parade in Guildford for the 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment [PWRR] I said I’d post a short video of the event.

Job done, here it is, see below.

The 2nd Battalion PWRR marched up Guildford High Street, coming to attention opposite Holy Trinity Church. A procession of dignitaries preceded them to assemble outside Church. The 2nd Battalion PWRR were welcomed by the Mayor of Guildford, and Colonel Patrick Crowley, PWRR replied to the Mayor’s welcome address. This was followed by a review of the troops by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Surrey Mr Michael More Molyneux, and the Mayor of Guildford.

A huge pleasure for us to witness the ceremony, and admire the precision of the soldiers, it was an Armed Forces Day to remember.

Enjoying watching the Freedom Parade of The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regt in Guildford

We both wanted to celebrate Armed Forces Day, which was last Saturday, by being close to the military.

We considered attending either the events in Aldershot, or the Freedom Parade for the 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment in Guildford. We chose Guildford. Surely there’s nothing finer that to witness our Army marching, and to see it in such a grand setting as Guildford’s High Street, what could be better.

Naughty me, I interrupted the procession of dignitaries to assemble outside Holy Trinity Church at the top of the High Street, well, it was the birthday of Cllr Nigel Manning, so I had to break into the procession to shake his hand and wish him well on his birthday. I did get a big, if embarrassed, smile.

We were well placed to witness the events. The march up the High Street, the welcome by the Mayor of Guildford, the response by Col Patrick Crowley, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regt, and the review of the troops by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Surrey Mr Michael More Molyneux Here are our photos of the parade.

Later I’ll post my video of the Freedom Parade, for which the glorious weather made it easy to film.

Watch the Surrey Heath Armed Forces Day flag raising on Monday 19th June

At 10.30 am on Monday 19th June, simultaneously with local authorities across the country, Armed Service personnel and veterans will join the Mayor of Surrey Heath, Councillor Valerie White, at Surrey Heath House at the raising of the flag to acknowledge Armed Forces Day on Saturday 24th June 2017.

The flag raising takes place on the lawn in front of the Council Offices. While being a short ceremony, it is none the less a quietly moving ceremony.

Stirring Armed Forces Parade up Guildford High Street inspires patriotic pride

I’m a bit slow in reporting on the Armed Forces Day parade on Guildford High Street on Saturday. All to do with the time taken to edit my video of the event, which still lacks sound – ah, well, practice makes perfect.

We arrived at the High Street in plenty of time for the parade which began at 11.30am, though nowhere near early enough to grab a good spot. We worked our way up through the crowds to the point almost underneath the clock just at the moment that the Prime Minister arrived. We later moved down the High Street to find a more convenient place.

Contingents from the Navy, Royal Air Force, Army, reservists, cadets, British Legion, and veterans marched proudly up the High Street, drawing applause and cheers from the crowd. The RAF Queen’s Colour Squadron impressed with the unison of their marching, while later in the parade some of the cadets, and even the reservists struggled to keep in step. No matter. That they were there was the important factor. I must admit to a welling up of patriotic emotion during the parade, a wonderful contrast to the tragic events unfolding in Sousse, and all the other troubles.

Here’s my short video of the parade and a few photos.

Armed Forces Day Display at Stoke Park, Guildford a resounding & popular success

We couldn’t see everything at Armed Forces Day at Guildford’s Stoke Park. With two stages – the Fringe Stage and the Main Arena, military display areas for the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, the Army, and so much more.

Now look, I’m a boy. I like chatting to soldiers and looking at military vehicles, as a result of which we didn’t see many of the events in the arena or on the stages. We did see the RAF Falcons parachute display team, and the Red Devils of the Parachute Regiment, and the fly past of a Spitfire and a Hurricane – very impressive all.

I reckon there must’ve been 50,000 people, or perhaps more at the event, all of whom seemed to be having a great day in the sun. I didn’t take that many photos, as was too keen on chats with the servicemen. Get Surrey have a good selection of images of the day. Here’s my photo montage of the day, plus a short video of visitors having fun on a Royal Engineers seven-person bicycle. [Silly me, the video wrongly says it’s a six-person bike].

Join the fun at National Armed Forces Day this Saturday in Guildford

AFD flagThis year the National Armed Forces Day is in Guildford on Saturday 27th June, about which Guildford say,

In recognition of the borough’s past and present military links, Guildford will host Armed Forces Day – National Event 2015 in various locations across the town. This fantastic day will offer fun for all the family with an exciting line-up of activities including: a service in Guildford Cathedral a parade, a parade in Guildford High Street, and a spectacular show at Stoke Park.

There’s a parade in Guildford High Street, while the main events are at Stoke Park, with appearances from Red Devils parachute team, the Red Arrows, and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast, along with static displays, demonstrations, and proms concert.

Excellent turnout for Fly the Flag for Armed Forces Day ceremony at Frimley Lodge Park

AFD flagA shower of rain isn’t a handicap to HM Armed Forces and veterans attending the ceremony of Fly the Flag for Armed Forces Day, held at Frimley Lodge Park this morning.

Fly the Flag ceremony is increasingly popular in Surrey Heath, this year supported by a large contingent of Armed Forces personnel, including Brig Allan McLeod – commandant of DCLPA at Deepcut, Lt Col Dan Rex – station commander at RMA Sandhurst, and the Mayor’s chaplain, Reverend Phil Parker of St Andrew’s Church, Frimley Green. The large crowd, including veterans, councillors, and supporters, mostly sheltered from the rain during the flag raising – not so the Armed Forces contingent.

National Armed Forces Day on Saturday 27th June is being held at Guilford this year. The event list is at Guildford Armed Forces Day. Here are my photos of the ceremony at Frimley Lodge Park.,