We are very sorry to have lost Harry Smith, who was our most senior member. A moving funeral service saw a packed church hear of Harry’s long and happy life both in and out of uniform. He was a lifelong supporter of the Legion, and we were honoured to be able to pay our respects with the formal tribute using the Branch Standard. Harry was a great character and will be sorely missed.
We were disappointed that it has not been possible to continue our Summer Lunches at Ashridge College. However this has allowed us to consider alternatives and, whilst our options are fully booked for this year, it is our intention to re-establish the Lunch in 2017. Following several ‘straw polls’, we shall aim for a late summer event in early September 2017. The weather is just as likely to be good as it is in July (better if this year’s early July was anything to go by!), and it makes a more even spread between the Annual Dinner in April and the Christmas supper.
The monthly ‘First Monday’ evening suppers are increasingly popular, and it has been wonderful to greet some new people. The format is ludicrously simple; turn up by 6.30pm and order a main course and a pudding; hand over a fiver and catch up on (or perhaps supply your own) gossip and news in the reserved dining room set aside for our use. The Bridgewater Arms continues to support this event, and we are jolly pleased to be able to take advantage of their largesse!!
Remembrance and the Poppy Appeal
This year Remembrance Sunday falls on November 13th and, as usual, we will gather outside the village hall at around 10.30am and march to the War Memorial for a short service, the Last Post and the observance of the Silence. You don’t have to have served in the forces or be a member of the RBL to join the march, but if you choose not to join the parade we hope that there will be a good turnout on the green. After the service on the green the parade will move on to the Church.
Please watch out for the Poppy collectors and the boxes in the village in the weeks leading up to the 13th and give whatever you can to support those who have served our country and suffered as a result. The donations to the Poppy Appeal are ring-fenced and used only for the benefit of former members of the serving community and their dependants. Please wear your poppy with pride.
On July 1st 2016, along with 10,000 others, Terri and I were very honoured to attend the official ceremony of the centenary of the battle of the Somme, at the Thiepval Memorial in Northern France.
The ceremony was held exactly one hundred years to the day of the start of that 141 day nation-defining battle. The Lutyens designed Memorial was originally unveiled in 1932 and was and is dedicated to the “Missing of the Somme”. Another simple inscription on the Memorial weighs heavily on the reader when faced by the seemingly endless list of names.
“Here are recorded names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields July 1915 February 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.”
One of those names is a man from the village who is counted among the missing and whose name appears on the Memorial - 15603 Pte. Frank Johnson, Royal Berkshire Regiment. He was killed in action on November 13th 1916, most probably on the opening day of the battle of the Ancre and tragically just five days before the Somme offensive operations were called off for the year due to impossible weather conditions.
On behalf of the village, we laid a wreath in Frank’s memory and for his supreme sacrifice.
I also took my own grandfather's WW1 medals (116643 Pte. WD Adams ASC) and gave thanks for his safe return. I don’t think I have met Frank’s wider family but I do know the debt that we owe to him – Frank Johnson, we will always remember you.