For our today they gave their tomorrow
One hundred years to the day, at 5am upon a chilly, drizzly morn, a railway carriage stood deep within the French Compiègne Forest. This was to be the location for the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany to cease all hostilities, to taking effect at eleven o’clock on 11 November 1918. It was only at that moment for the first time in 4 years of bloody fighting that the guns fell silent over the battle fields of the Western Front and so bring an end to the Great War, the war to end all wars as those who had lived though the horror had thought at the time. It was only then that the nations of the world who took part could take full stock the enormity of loss and suffering upon all their nations.
Following a banquet in the honour of the President of the French Republic held by King George V on the evening of 10th November 1919, the first official Armistice Day events were subsequently held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace on the morning of 11th November 1919. This would set the trend for a day of Remembrance for decades to come to which the county now commemorates all those that have perished within war.
It was for this reason on a bright autumn day on Sunday 11th November 2018, the members of 1st Park Street Beavers, Cubs and Scouts once again joined other local groups and hundreds of community members for the 17th annual St Stephen’s Parish Remembrance Day parade.
Led once again by the Harpenden Pipe Band, the groups and their leaders proudly walked the parade route, flag bearers holding their flags high, from the railway bridge next to Park Street rail station to the Park Street War Memorial on Watling Street.
Once the parade had reached and settled at the Memorial, the Rev. Kylie Hodgkins of St Luke’s Church, Bricket Wood began the service with a most moving tribute to all fallen heroes, which took the service to the reading by St Stephen Parish Council Chair Cllr Dorothy Kerry of the most moving poem “Remember Me” written by Harry Riley. Once the community hymn “Abide With Me” and then prayer by Rev. Kylie Hodgkins, came the oh so familiar and haunting sound of the last post played by Mr John Back, Bugler of the Salvation Army to mark the start of the two minute silence only broken to mark its end by the traditional Reveille. Tribute read by Cllr. Nicholas Tyndale brought the service to the laying of the wreaths by local community groups, schools and dignitaries took place. The service moved quickly through the reading of The Lord’s Prayer, The Solider, Kohima Epitaph, ending the service with The National Anthem.
1st Park Street Group Scout Leader - Mr Christopher Holliss commented after the service, "In this most special year, marking the 100th year of the end of the Great War, I have to thank every single one of the group's members and their families who took part in today’s event. It is of course so hard for any of us to truly understand the true horror of war let alone our young scouting members and so it is always so wonderful to see how dignified they all conduct themselves. I feel that it is truly important to know and understand the true nature of Remembrance, for which I feel the story behind the grave of the unknown warrior embodies so much. With such a great mix within our group of nationalities, religions and gender I feel that we today have given the truest representation to date of all those be them from our small village or throughout the world who have and continue to give so much."
Well done to everyone who took part, including:
1st Park Street Scout Group - Wreath Party
Wreath Layer - Dylan S - Scout
Wreath Escort - Imogen H - Cub
Wreath Escort - Erika K- Beaver
Group Section Flag Bearers
Thumpers Beaver Colony - William G
Conkers Beaver Colony -
Birchwood Cub Pack - Vyom
Wolf Cub Pack - Lucas M
Colne Scout Troop - Conor T.K
"The Unknown Warrior"
On November 7th, 1920, in strictest secrecy, four unidentified British bodies were exhumed from temporary battlefield cemeteries at Ypres, Arras, the Asine and the Somme. None of the soldiers who did the digging were told why. The bodies were taken by field ambulance to GHQ at St-Pol-Sur-Ter Noise. There the bodies were draped with the union flag. Sentries were posted and Brigadier-General Wyatt and a Colonel Gell selected one body at random. A French honour guard was selected and stood by the coffin overnight. On the morning of the 8th, a specially designed coffin made of oak from the grounds of Hampton Court was brought and the unknown warrior placed inside.
On top was placed a crusaders sword and a shield on which was inscribed '( a British Warrior who fell in the GREAT WAR 1914-1918 for king and country'.
On The 9th of November, the unknown warrior was taken by horse-drawn carriage through guards of honour and the sound of tolling bells and bugle calls to the quayside.
There it was saluted by Marechal Foche and loaded onto HMS Vernon bound for Dover..... the coffin stood on the deck covered in wreaths and surrounded by the French honour guard.
On arrival at Dover, the unknown warrior was greeted with a 19 gun salute, normally only reserved for field marshals. He then traveled by special train to Victoria Station London.
He stayed there overnight and on the morning of the 11th of November, he was taken to Westminster Abbey.
The idea of the unknown warrior was thought of by a Padre called David Railton who had served at the front during the great war and it was the union flag he used as an altar cloth at the front, that had been draped over the coffin.
It was his intention that all relatives of the 517,773 combatants whose bodies had not been identified could believe that the unknown warrior could very well be their lost husband, Father, brother or son.... This is the reason we wear our poppies, we do not glorify war, We remember with humility, the great and ultimate sacrifices that were made not just in this war but every war and conflict where are service personell have fought to ensure the liberty we now have. Every year on the 11th of November we Remember the unknown warrior.... At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We will remember them.