Some photographs from the Westminster Abbey Field of Remembrance opening yesterday, 6 November. As you can see it was HRH Prince Harry who performed the opening; HRH the Duke of Edinburgh was with HM the Queen, and HRH Prince William I think, at Wellington Barracks for the dedication of a new memorial containing the Flanders earth.
It was a crisp, chilly morning, but that didn’t keep the numbers down or the crowds away. Prince Harry was on very good form and shared a few words with pretty much every one who was in front of their plots. The larger crosses are labelled from the Provost Marshal and All Ranks RAF Police; the National Chairman, Executive Council and All Members RAF Police Association; and also, because the Branch paid for one, the Chairman, Committee and All Members RAF Police Association, London & Home Counties Branch. A named cross was planted for each named person on the RAF Police Association website Roll of Honour – compiled and maintained by Steve Davies. My thanks got to L&HC Branch member Frank Turner for preparing all of those crosses.
Additionally one of each of the Remembrance religious / non-religious markers was planted “For All RAF Police Who Have Fallen”. I also planted named crosses for those former RAFP personnel who have recently died: Dave Copland, Keith Adams, Eric Harrison and Liz Taylor. There is just about enough room for a few others to be planted if people are so minded.
The photo of Prince Harry planting his cross – with me in the far background – was taken from the BBC website, so if that one is published anywhere due recognition should be made. The two photos of the plot were taken by me and the one of Prince Harry speaking with me was taken by a lady stood behind us.
Remembrance Sunday in London this year (2014) was again very sunny and quite mild. This was the Association’s twelfth appearance and some 60 members plus 2 serving Warrant Officers marched with “eyes left” at the Cenotaph and later on “eyes right” to HRH Prince Andrew.
As Stew McArdle has now retired from his meeting and greeting duties, Brian Davies has kindly volunteered to call the roll, and this he did with a smile!!
Once more this year, we were led by former PM and Association VP, retired Group Captain Ted Scaplehorn OBE and Association Chairman Mr Brian Flinn. They were “escorted” by retired Goup Captains John Rose OBE and David Stanley.
This year, our usual busy young(ish) ladies, Bobbi and Maggie were joined by Vic Smith’s daughter Michelle and so there should be even more photos than usual.
Our regular large Right Marker, Brian Burgess was carrying a private wreath and so Roy Laver OBE (LHC Branch) stood in.
Our permanent Left Marker and TV target, George (Badger) Brookes, carried our contingent marker C22. This year it was the turn of Column C to lead the parade (next year Column C will be second off) and so we were lined up on the Downing Street side of Whitehall.
Our wreath carriers were Vic Smith (on his 12th successive appearance) with the Provost Marshal and serving RAF Police wreath. The Association wreath was carried by Association Secretary, Alan Weeks.
By kind permission of the Provost Marshal, (Group Captain Kevin Bailey), Warrant Officer Graeme Spark pushed Dennis Cothay in his wheel chair. (Stew Mc Ardle in a wheelchair for the first time was pushed by volunteer Mick Griffin!!).
Warrant Officer Dale Woolman-Lane MBE in full great coat order (with sword) assisted our Association National Parade Marshal Mr Bill Veazey MBE. Bill (and some unbiased wives) thought our drill and turnout was the best ever!
At 12.30, the National Anthem was played on Horse Guards Parade and having been “dismissed” by Bill Veazey, we made our way (promptly) back through the Arch, across Whitehall and downstairs into the basement of the Silver Cross pub. Altogether, there were some 115 noisy, thirsty and hungry bodies including the Provost Marshal in No 1 HSD with medals.
This year the crowds were thicker, the police were out in their hundreds and the applause was the loudest we have heard.
Also on parade were Archie Heath and Tony Harbour of the South Downs Branch marching with the carers and members of the Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstans).
At both performances at the Royal Albert Hall the Association Standard was paraded by our Association National Parade Standard Bearer, Mr Nigel Lacey.
At the evening performance at the Royal Albert Hall our Association National Chairman and his wife Joy were the guests of the Royal British Legion President, Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson. Brian and Joy later attended the President’s Reception at the very top (inside) of the Royal Albert Hall.
The events of Saturday and Sunday followed Bill Veazey’s great efforts last Thursday in the Garden of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey. After the Parade on Sunday, we went to see the Garden and with great pride we viewed the RAFP and RAFPA immaculate corner of the RAF section. Well done Bill and his most worthy assistant Frank Turner (LHC Branch).
What a great weekend for the RAF Police and the RAF Police Association.