Have just returned from the Service of Remembrance at our Headquarters, and it was really well done. I was surprised, though I suppose that I shouldn’t have been, that all the traffic on the main road kept zooming past during the two minutes’ silence. I half expected it to stop, but it carried on relentlessly.
In previous years Dad and the family would go into town where he would march with the rest of the RAFA contingent and we would find ourselves a strategic point from which to clap and cheer with the crowd. The Police would always stop the traffic on the route of the parade through town and around the memorial where the service took place, so for years I have been used to there being silence except for birds and aeroplanes.
The RAFA always seemed to raise the loudest sounds of appreciation from the crowd (no, it wasn’t us just making more noise for Dad!) I think that it was because most of the other service groups such as the Army and Navy, who are both based locally (well at least the Navy were but no longer; another story) contained mostly young officers and cadets, but looking at those in the RAFA it was clear to all that these people were of an age where they would have served in World War II, and the crowd recognised them as veterans and wanted to say a big thank you to them.
This was of course before the present conflicts, where today’s servicemen and women are being sent abroad and are suffering now in new wars.
As the years passed there were fewer people able to march, and one year they asked me to step in to make up the numbers in one of the ranks. From then on I was a regular marcher with them for some years. I can tell you, I was so proud to be with them, and took pride at keeping in step, swinging my arms in time with the others, standing at ease and to attention. We’d be there in all weathers; torrential rain, bitterly cold frost, and one particularly mild Sunday where several of us asked the Customer Services desk in Littlewoods, outside whose store we were ‘mustering’ before the parade, to look after our heavy outer coats! Which they kindly did, and we swopped our poppies from them to our thinner jackets.
Last year we held one at our workplace on the Friday, but this year there was a bigger service at our main building today, which is as I say where I’ve been.