On the 11th Day at the 11th hour before midday, we shall ‘Remember Them’ with a 2-minute silence, and the world shall stand in repose…
Let us remember them…
During the ceremony this week, Her Majesty also joined the Dean of Westminster in prayers and a moment of reflection after the bouquet was laid on the grave, before The Queen’s Piper played a lament, The Flowers of the Forest.
The grave of the Unknown Warrior is the final resting place of an unidentified British serviceman who died on the battlefields during the First World War. The serviceman’s body was brought from Northern France and buried at Westminster Abbey on 11th November 1920 after a procession through Whitehall.
The Queen’s grandfather, King George V, placed a wreath on the coffin at the Cenotaph, which was unveiled on the processional route.
His Majesty later dropped a handful of earth from France onto the serviceman’s coffin as it was lowered into the grave at the Abbey.
He was joined at the burial by his son, the future King George VI.
The Unknown Warrior became an important symbol of mourning for bereaved families, representing all those who lost their lives in the First World War but whose place of death was not known, or whose bodies remained unidentified. It remains a solemn tribute to all service personnel who have lost their lives in combat.
The Queen was photographed leaving Windsor Castle on Wednesday before returning two hours later, where it is understood she is now self-isolating with husband Prince Philip, 99.
She looked sombre in a black ensemble, typically only worn while in mourning, attending a funeral, or for Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday services.
The Court Circular for November 4 reads: ‘The Queen this morning commemorated the Centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey, London SW1, and was received at the Great West Door by the Dean of Westminster (the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle).’
Tribute: The Queen pays tribute to the Unknown Warrior while her Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, carries a bouquet of flowers to place at his grave
Tribute: The Unknown Soldier was buried at Westminster Abbey on 11 November 1920 but lockdown restrictions mean commemorations had to take place in advance.
The Queen’s Piper plays during a ceremony in London’s Westminster Abbey attended by the Queen last week
Royal commemorations: The Duchess of Cornwall also carried out an engagement at Westminster Abbey yesterday, standing in for Prince Harry to visit the Field of Remembrance
What is Remembrance Day and why is the Poppy its symbol?
We will remember them: The Queen, Prince Charles and Boris Johnson lead politicians and royals at the Cenotaph for Remembrance Sunday service – as lockdown forces millions of Britons and the rest of the world to pay their respects from home. Not even lockdown will keep the world from honoring and remembering them, to whom we owe our freedom.
Annual service at the Cenotaph in London will go ahead on Sunday, with the ceremony being held outdoors
Although the public are unable to attend, the event will be broadcast live on multiple channels
Ahead of today’s service, Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid respects at Uxbridge War Memorial
MAY GOD PRESERVE US ALL, OH YE FEEBLE HUMANS,
ON HIS DAY OF THE FINAL JUDGEMENT…
HOW DID REMEMBRANCE DAY IMPACT ON MY GENERATION?
On this important occasion, I would like to take the opportunity to deliver my share of Remembrance Day celebrated on the actual day of November the 11th. However, in honour of my late husband, a military professional with the British SAS for many years, and how important this day always was to him up until 2018, I feel urged to put down my thoughts for friends and family. As a young child growing up in Holland during the 1950s, I remember Remembrance Day which falls on November the 11th. This day was indelibly stamped upon my memory for we were taught to take a 2-minutes silence break on the 11th hour, an hour before midday to commemorate the sombre significance and importance of this commemorative day.
During the course of those 2-minutes of silence, we were not allowed to move, twitch about, or dare look up, as we stood side by side at attention…eyes solemnly downcast as we focused on the tips of our well-polished and neatly laced up shiny black school shoes. As part of Our traditional school uniform get up, we held our boaters tightly pressed against our proud chests appearing extremely introspective with much respect for the fallen warriors! The Nuns had their eagle eyes fastened upon our faces; dare we smirk.
We were all of 6 years old, but we understood what this moment in time signified. We were taught at the earliest age of understanding what freedom meant, and how much we owed to those who perished on our behalf and were slaughtered. A deathly toll to the magnitude of which had never occurred before, or followed to the same degree of the deaths toll since the onset of successive wars that transpired, and tallied in by the tens of millions of casualties during WWI which lasted from 1914 – 1918. This demonic doom had left a raped world in the most horrific and unimaginable chaos and unbearable grief in its wake. There was nowhere to go or hide in the widespread destruction of infrastructure and industry, and if people survived, it must have been God’s doing, for Satan had his stronghold and firm grip over the world since that very day he had manifested himself in the proverbial ‘Garden of Eden’ so perhaps there was no escaping the inevitable horrors.
As a child, during the early ’50s that followed, I could not even recall anyone having ever told me that not a mere 2 years prior to when I was born, WWII had only just come to an end and which had consumed the world once again from 1939 to 1945. How odd it now seems to me recalling this fact, that despite the chaos during those years we were so carefree and blissfully ignorant; unaware of the horrors and unprecedented calamities that were only just behind us by the time we had reach aged 5 or 6.
At least to us children life seemed and was as normal as could be and no different to today in most of our peaceful countries where there was a plentiful abundance of everything. Every commodity we could wish for to make life easy and exciting was at our avail, and I remember how much my Mum had spoiled me to the disdain of my very disciplinarian Dad. And that only just a few short years after WWII had ended, as if it had never happened.
Of course, by the time we graduated and transitioned from primary school to high school level, we learned our history lessons and it only then dawned on us that peace in our world was not as abundant as we had presumed. However, we were not left wanting for anything during the early 1950s and life was wonderful as far as I can recall even today. Perhaps our parents did not feel that making us aware of the horrors of war would serve any positive benefits. How quickly my country in the Netherlands and all allied countries, and in Europe and England, had re-emerged from the ashes and the stench of death, destruction, hunger, and genocide by the opposing powers so triumphantly, and managed to steer life back to as normal as can be. It shows also how resilient and unconquerable humanity is by its innate nature for sheer survival, ensuring the continued preservation of the species. We shall always rise from the ashes like the legendary phoenix, a bird that supposedly rose from the ashes of its funeral pyre with renewed youth.
Yet here we stood from one year to the next on November the 11th, at the 11th hour. an hour before Midday and took a 2-minute silence break which was imposed upon us and the entire known world of our allies. Perhaps the significance of the sheer magnitude of this traditional re-enactment en masse each year is why it will always be part of our psyche, especially so for those generations born in that Era. In a sense even still today, it brings a renewed sense of unification as we stand united in the most profound way during that 2-minute silence. It was then and still is now a constant reminder and conduit or facilitator that we must ‘never forget’ and do everything within our human power to never let this happen again to such a scale. The reason behind this action and the laying of floral reeves is to maintain its continued integrity and this tradition has never faded and was also much more intensely powerful in the 1950s, because of the fact that WWII had only just come to its end in 1945. So, the psychological wounds were relatively fresh.
On those Remembrance days, I recall how all traffic came to an abrupt halt, and all businesses in the townships and major city retailers, and places of employment and blue colour corporate offices likewise stopped dead in their tracks. People in transit on their bicycles on their way to work or whatever their errands of purpose were about, had stopped to show their respect on the side of the road answering to the town’s sirens shrieking them into line, as they stood in silent repose to ‘Remember Them!’
I don’t recall this was still a tradition even in Australia to where our family migrated in 1960, and where I finished and completed my formal and higher education. They too lost many soldiers and family members (both male and female), and not least the many well bred horses sacrificed by the farming rural sectors and became part of an already existing military infantry known as the 1st Light Horse Brigade,
The 1st Light Horse Brigade was a mounted infantry brigade of the Australian Imperial Force, which served in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. The brigade was initially formed as a part-time militia formation in the early 1900s in New South Wales and then later in Queensland. Wikipedia
They were then supplied to the Brigade in 1914 as casualties ensued and the numbers needed to be reinforced and were transported overseas, but many hundreds of animals were ultimately horrifically maimed and brutally massacred all in aid of the wretched War effort, as did all those other allied countries that made those sacrifices in equal measures and who were engaged in the WWI effort. My soulmate and beloved late husband used to talk about his Grandfather with great pride, who was also a military serving man who served at Bloemfontein during the South African War, also called Boer War, Second Boer War, or Anglo-Boer War; to Afrikaners, also called Second War of Independence, war fought from October 11, 1899, to May 31, 1902, between Great Britain and the two Boer (Afrikaner) republics—the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State.’
His Grandfather earned a knighthood and was awarded with the title of ‘Sir’ and his Grandmother took on the title of ‘Lady’ of whom my husband was very proud. She was the woman who should have been his Mum because she spoiled her favourite Grandson to the limit of her capacity, at the consternation of her daughter (my husband’s Mother). His Grandfather placed not much importance on the fact he became a titled soldier as he had his feet firmly upon terra-firma. My husband’s Grandfather was a man of great principles and he drummed that into his grandson, to be always aware of his commonness, or in other words, if he wanted to become a leader of men and an Officer on whom their lives depended (by taking the lead first and then allowing his men to follow) unlike the mentality of the upper crust officers who virtually bought their credentials and titles even in the services because of background and influence.
Grandfather was a very wise man and this is also why his grandson – my husband – was so much like him in promoting those fine principles, to go before your men and not use them as battle ammunition fodder. My husband shielded a South Korean soldier in Korea with his own body as they were the recipients of bomb blasts, and demonstrated heroism in being prepared and willing to die on behalf of your ally, and take the brunt and is why he was awarded The Purple Heart medal. But he ended up with paralysis from the waist down and landed himself in a wheelchair. Thanks to a very talented American surgeon, who felt that sticking the knife in wanted first to try manipulation and massage, and this saved my husband from a life in a wheelchair. He then began on the road of recuperation to regain a full recovery and enrolled with a Japanese Karate Master for six months. Before long he was back in the saddle and he was jumping from aeroplanes with his troupe of 15-men-strong (all Special Air Service Paratrooper) as they defiantly parachuted into the dense canopies of the Malayan jungle in the ’50s, never before attempted this strategy was later abandoned due to the many horrific mortalities it rendered.
Kyokushinkai Kyokushin (極真) is a style of stand-up fighting and was founded in 1964 by Korean-Japanese Masutatsu Oyama (大山倍達, Ōyama Masutatsu). “Kyokushin” is Japanese for “the ultimate truth”. It is rooted in a philosophy of self-improvement, discipline and hard training.
My husband founded the first Karate training programs in Wellington, New Zealand to be made available to young people at a time in the early ’60s this form of philosophy and disciplinarian art form was still very much frowned upon by the public for their children. However, it took off and today many young people both young and older benefit both mentally and physically from the training and its principles.
Grandfather’s opinions have always counted and he brought up his Grandson in the manner to which he was accustomed and what emphasis he placed upon knighthoods, because he groomed my husband to be a leader of men yes, but to take his position ‘upfront’ and if this meant taking the brunt of the enemy in the face, then so be it. Because my husband walked in the footsteps of his adored Grandfather’s tutoring, he was loved by his men, because he was approachable and relatable and was regarded as one of them. That is the difference between being an SAS soldier or being part of a normal basic military environment where soldiers are always under the scrutiny of their superiors, and the disciplines upon which the institution of the military is founded. That said, I feel there are parallels to be drawn between the current monarch Queen Elizabeth, and even the Queen Mother before her, who mingled with commoners, the people, especially during the War days. Even Queen Elizabeth knew how to fix a motor in an army vehicle and got her hands greasy. There are so many misinformation issues about our believed royal family, however they are becoming more visible now has they continue to undergo that revolutionary process to align themselves directly to the avail of the people via Internet technology, and they are all out there working in communities and drawing closer the rest of the world…
He told me how his Grand-Father had suffered so much emotionally just at recalling the fate of so many horses that had met their agonizing death knell as they charged them into areas under the cover of night into concealed and hidden barbed wire traps set by the enemy. Not to speak of the wounds inflicted from bomb blasts and searing flying shrapnel assailing both men and beast alike. He could never quell the memory of their piercing and agonizing wailing screams as the shrapnel tore into their flesh, bone and ligaments. Grandfather was also very talented and sketched soldiers on horses from memory. He would first outline all the animal’s ligaments, muscle formation and sinew, then fill it all in with a flesh covering to make a composite portrayal of a well bread strong horse. I have framed all Grandfather’s sketches and they hang on our bedroom walls.
My husband’s Grandfather was an exemplary horseman and military cavalry man, who also had a reputation as a well-known equestrian breeder and producer of some of the most outstanding and sought after polo ponies in his day after he left the British Army Royal Cavalry Division. He was a man of great compassion who demonstrated a fierce love for horses – as did my husband who was very much influenced by his Grandfather during the second World War between 1939 to 1945. During which time his Grandfather groomed and prepped his grandson in readiness for the day he was to join ‘The Blues’ also otherwise referred to as ‘The Queen’s Household Cavalry and personal bodyguard’. My husband, like his Grandfather was also a horse whisperer. In fact, he even had a most profound and calming effect on otherwise very powerful and unmanageable but extremely valuable temperamental breeding bulls when we managed a cattle farm in the ’80 in the Australian outback.
After his Grandfather retired as a professional soldier he took over the Postal Office management services and duties in Fleet, Hampshire, England during WWII, which reigned from 1939 to 1945, and did so free of charge as his personal contribution to the town’s war effort. He also considered it his privilege to deliver the mail if there was any communication going on and also delivered telegrams from the war office which held the contents of much ill and foreboding and he was just the right person to understand what such devastating news would mean to its recipients and their families. He was a well-loved man in his community and was also their hero and understood the protocol in how to handle such duties of which there were many.
My husband was born in 1932, so he witnessed a lot going on in his village. He even learned to monitor the skies and kept air watch reconnaissance hosted by the so called Home Guard (you know, the type of provision that was so eloquently portrayed in the British series titled “Dads Army”), and whose members were comprised of retired military men and officers, ex- Royal Air Force and ex-Navy veterans, and so my husband at the tender age of 10 would lie on his stomach concealed from view and would closely study the German fighter planes formations of various designs and makes that would zoom over the district when the heat was on. By the end of the war he was able to identify the many German Aircraft that would fly regular reconnaissance missions which he could identify even from miles away.
Life was NEVER boring while my beloved soulmate was alive, and I miss him every day more intensely as time goes by, but he is here always whispering in my ear and he is driving my fingers on the keyboard. Therefore, I take no responsibility nor have any control over what I am revealing on this page.
He had been on leave with the British SAS after having spent time in the Belgian Congo – where he served as President’s Mobutu’s bodyguard along with his 15 strong troupe of men on behalf of the British government, and decided he wanted to spend some time in Australia. I was so naive and inexperienced even at age 25. But one thing I knew in my gut – that he was the one I had dreamed of and despite the fact he was 15 years my senior was entirely irrelevant. I was absolutely blinded by his charm and the power that exuded from his entire being. He was very proud of his ancestry and heritage, however sadly during the many wars that had plagued England’s history many ancestral records had been destroyed during the intense bombing raids that rained from England’s skies during the last two great wars in conflict with Germany and later Japan, who endeavoured to abscond a slice of the world scene while it was vulnerable and already under such weighty and incredible duress.
So, although there are records of Births, Deaths, and Marriages they are very scant in detail overall, but the basic Ancestry village records that do still exist provides only minimal information. His Grandfather was by then well into his early sixties I would say, but he too was also a very patriotic British citizen, loyal to King and country, and contributed his time and efforts to local government on a voluntary basis and filled the needs wherever his assistance and support could be utilized.
All Great Britain’s young strong and able-bodied menfolk in the country’s cities and rural sectors were conscripted en masse to the military and were sent off to fight in the War. My husband’s father was also in the military and served for a time in Italy where he died at the rank of Captain in 1938 at Solerno, during the WWII conflict. Several of his decorated uncles were also killed and so the losses suffered by that country proved heavy and prolific for many hundreds, if not thousands of British families. So all the retired senior citizens that were left behind in those villages made themselves useful and filled in the gaps in areas of basic infrastructure where the needs at the Homefront were imperative to ensure that the most important basic services to the communities kept functioning at a reasonable level.
My husband’s Mother on the other hand presented as a most formidable woman of great strength and courage, who had offered her voluntary services toward the town’s war effort by taking over as one of the cooks in one of the the village soup kitchens, as well also took upon her shoulders various other responsibilities to fill the needs to provide medical aid where this was called for, as well as organized local knitting and sewing groups in the community to supply their soldiers at war abroad with with socks, hats, earmuffs and scarves and garments to keep them warm in the field over the winter season and especially during the Christmas celebrations.
The town’s soup kitchens were set up for the citizens of Fleet during a time when food was scarce to come by and people were always able to at least get a free feed there. My husband said he could not remember his mother as an outstanding cook, but she could produce a nice chicken dinner on occasion, but her scones were of questionable consistency. But when it came to taking the lead in organizing the many other services to support their community needs, she was the right person for the job. She was like your typical sergeant major and from her disciplinarian approach with her young and wild son there was no escaping her wrath, except when he found refuge in the tallest tree on their property. It was also during those intimate occasions as he was able to scan the vast fields sprawled out far below from his prime position, that he knew exactly that one day he would fly one of those fighter planes and parachute out of them, if only to get away from his less than doting Mother. But she felt it was her responsibility to be both a Mother and Father to him. She loved him too because it was she, who, had saved her wild son from drowning at age 6, as she plucked him from the waves. She was fully clothed at the time she submerged herself into the water after he had gone exploring again while her head was turned for a mere moment, and he in the meanwhile by then had lost his footing.
The best solution to tame her son was to get him into military school sooner rather than later as his Grandfather had planned and promptly enrolled his Grandson at Sandhurst’s most prestigious military academy after graduating from primary school. It was time to grow up. However, the restless son that he was and who was deterred by nothing whatsoever took to the rigorous disciplines as a duck to water. He seemed a glutton for punishment. They showered under cold water showers which rained mercilessly down upon their already stiff cold backs from sleeping in dormitories that were not heated even in winter, upon rising at 5 am. Then out into the country for a run – all 50 of them in their skimpy shorts come hail, or shine. Then exercise routines for an hour followed by breakfast at 7 am. Consisted of plain toast and jam and a hearty bowl of porridge. Remember there was a war on. He was entirely in his element and not before long his superiors could see in him the stuff of which covert intelligence gathering agents are made of. He was appointed as prefect and so shouldered the responsibility to keep an eye on his fellow peers. This sometimes created tension, but overall, he managed his new leadership appointment with aplomb. So, in a sense his mother and grandfather’s plan of action had entirely boomeranged back into their well-intended laps.
Some years on the little boy had grown into a man and one of Britain’s most sought after decorated soldiers, who was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth toward the end of his service in the SAS in 1984. However, his restless young soul was still looking for excitement and although he entered his training at the Household Cavalry Regiment also known as the prestigious “The Blues and Royals”, where he excelled and only spend a couple of terms, his restlessness drove him onward seeking new assignments. All Household Cavalry soldiers get assigned to war service duties and however much he enjoyed the lifestyle as a member of the Elite The Blues and which came with the many perks in the romance department and he realized that many a young human filly was at his avail to be sampled. I guess it must have been the uniform, his warring soul kept beckoning.
But no, it was not the fancy uniform, breeches and tall black patent leather thigh high boots, scabbard and sword that made the girls swoon, he really turned out to be the ultimate and most considerate romantic! But that typical restlessness and the pull for adventure finally got its clutches on his talents to excell as a true warrior which ran through his blood. He proudly passed with flying colours after going through the most selective training to the next stage of a most rigorous and gruelling training program to qualified him as Captain in the British Special Air Service Elite Regiment.
His first assignment – Korea. But apart from initial field reconnaissance on active duty where political unrest prevailed in the world, his role was annexed to the covert intelligence department and MI-5. He used to call that the ‘Spooks hangout’. He underwent further covert intelligence training to give him a taste of what was to come. The woman (training agent) was always referred to as ‘aunty’, no names, no packdrill etc. etc., From there he progressed on to fight his first campaign when he and his troupe were seconded to Korea. after leaving ‘The Blues’ (British Household Cavalry regiment). He did parachute his way into the dense Malayan jungles too with the SAS in the ’50s. (https://gilbertliteraryagencyauthors.com/trooper-october-1932-to-january-2018-gilbert-literary-and-film-agency-founder-since-1990/)
So, I feel honoured to have been made aware at a young age in my own country of birth as to how much we indeed owe to these brave men and women of yesteryear, who lost their lives in service to their country, and those who fought the noble fight on behalf of future generations to come; and those the likes of my husband’s Mother and Grand-father and all those like them for their voluntary and selfless services during the War. Collectively they all helped to uphold the continued preservation and hard-earned freedom of the entire known world collectively.
It is invariably through our own sense of community service and our actions when we witness the likes of raging fires, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions today too that are occurring across the globe at regular intervals these days, and what the human spirit is capable of in times of great need. At a time when catastrophies strike in any one of our countries across the world, and undergoes the wrath of a natural disaster, we as humans, seem to shine. The decimation of villages and infrastructure tugs at the heart of the moist hardest of people, and it is then that we demonstrate the best side of our human nature in offering aid to our communities, and aid that even comes from far away destinations in the form of professional aid to rebuild infrastructure, and this is when our world unites. In times of calamity and strive we are at our best behaviour and we band together as a cohesive tight-knit group to offer aid to those in dire need.
Sadly, however, I get a profound sense that today, not many young people remember or are even familiar with history and much of those horrors the world has suffered in years past during the great War years. Many young people have been spoiled with so much with what we have now at our avail and all these instant gratifying conveniences in areas of our advancing technology and which is also taken for granted and is often misused and abused. And that saddens me no end.
If anyone wishes to know more about the downside of our ever advancing digital and internet technology, I urge you to check out The Social Dilemma documentary on Netflix if you are a member. But please take some time out also to watch the videos here on my Remembrance page and put yourself in the place of those who perished on our behalf, and then thank and Remember Them…in your heart of hearts!
As if they were your very own!
Love and light from me to you, and Them…
Emerantia Parnall-Gilbert November 11th, 2020