Henley Remembers

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Photos: Neville Barber

The last post sounded out at 11 o’clock yesterday morning to a huge gathering of people at the Henley Remembrance Day Service in the town centre.  Canon Martyn Griffiths from St Mary’s Church led the service with his introduction from the Town Hall steps before the last post and the two minutes silence.  In this special year, the World War 1 centenary, this year’s service seemed extra special.

The Mayor, Councillor Martin Akehurst’s address opened with “We are here this morning for the Remembrance Service. We are here this morning able to hold the Remembrance Service. We are here free to hold this Remembrance Service today … thanks to all of those people who made a sacrifice … sometimes the ultimate sacrifice so that we have not only the right but the freedom to hold this Remembrance service today … thanks to them.”

He went on to highlight who we should remember…

  • many of the people called up for the World Wars were only just 16
  • all of the armed services, especially the Royal Marines who celebrated their 350th Anniversary on 28th October this year
  • the many that didn’t return and their families
  • those who returned from conflict, who had to rebuild their lives and their bodies
  • those who did return with memories locked very deep of their experience

The Mayor concluded his address by retelling a conversation he had had with his Grandad about one of his comrades who fell in WW1 “Going over the top, and looking out for your mates. But you knew … when you went over the top he’d be there … with you … watching y’back. He was a … good … bloke. And decades later I still ask myself … every day – why him not me …?’

The parade at the service was led by Major Paul Smyth and included ex service associations, the Service Cadet Corps and other local organisations and associations including the St John’s Ambulance, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts and Brownies and Guides from Henley.

After the second hymn, ‘I vow to thee, my country’, the prayers and the blessings, the wreaths were laid on the Town Hall steps.  A march past then followed by all the groups around Market Square with the assembled crowd applauding them.

On Saturday residents of the Gainsborough estate planted 100 poppy crosses to mark the WW1 centenary in the new flower bed which was made earlier this year by the pram walk which leads from the estate down to Greys Road.  Dave Eggleton, said “We wanted to do something special to mark the WW1 centenary and when I was clearing out one of my sheds I found a box of the remembrance crosses and thought this would be great to get people involved.”

Also on Saturday, Members of the The Berkshire & Oxfordshire Military Vehicle Trust and their vehicles were in Market Square offering the opportunity for children to climb aboard.  The MVT members look after and restore a whole range of ex military vehicles with both UK and overseas origins.

1 comment
  1. Tim Keating says:

    I met an amazing gentleman in a wheelchair at the Remembrance Day Parade. He had been a pilot during the war (Spitfires AND Hurricanes). His daughter asked if I would mind being photographed shaking his hand. Afterwards she said “You just made his day”. I was too amazed to say that the honour was entirely mine. I felt humbled to shake the hand of such an incredibly brave (and modest) man.

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