Thursday, 23 September 2021

With thanks, we remember you

THOUSANDS of people paid their respects to the fallen at services of remembrance on Sunday.

THOUSANDS of people paid their respects to the fallen at services of remembrance on Sunday.

Families joined veterans, civic dignitaries and cadets in parades in Henley and other towns and villages across South Oxfordshire.

They paid tribute to those who died in the two world wars and more modern conflicts, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The services were conducted at 11am to mark the official end of the First World War at 11am on November 11, 1918.

In Henley, hundreds gathered in Market Place on a chilly but sunny day for the traditional service and two-minute silence.

Roads around the town hall were closed to allow a parade, which included army, navy and RAF and sea cadets, firefighters, cubs, scouts, brownies and guides.

The ceremony began when choristers from St Mary’s Church arrived at the town hall.

At the stroke of 11am, town sergeant Cliff Austin carried the mace down the steps followed by Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak and fellow town councillors in their robes of office.

The Rev Canon Martyn Griffiths, the rector of St Mary’s, led the service and gave an address.

He was followed by Brigadier Malcolm Page, president of the Henley branch of the Royal British Legion, who cited Ode Of Remembrance from Laurence Binyon’s poem For The Fallen.

A bugler then played the Last Post to signal the start of the two-minute silence, which was impeccably observed and concluded with Reveille.

Veteran Brian Hughes, of Harpsden Road, Henley, carried the Legion’s standard, which he dipped as a mark of respect.

Six standard bearers of the youth groups and cadets followed his example.

Members of the crowd observed the silence by bowing their heads, standing to attention, raising their hands to their hearts or dipping their hats in salute.

Brig Page read out the Kohima Epitaph and choristers sang the hymn We Rest On Thee. L Cpl Rhea Simister, an army cadet from Harpsden, read the lesson and prayers were read before the Mayor’s address.

Addressing the crowd from the town hall steps, Councillor Gawrysiak said: “During this service today we remember in solemn reflection the ultimate sacrifice made by men and women.

“We pause, we reflect and, with grateful thanks, we remember those who serve to secure and preserve our freedom.”

He thanked the Royal British Legion for its custodial role in remembrance as well as the charities Help for Heroes and Combat Stress for caring for the injured.

Addressing the past and current service personnel present, the Mayor said: “Today the people of Henley-on-Thames salute you and all the people of Henley-on-Thames and surrounding villages say thank you.

“We thank all the parents who have brought their children and grandchildren to this service today so that they can share in this act of remembrance.

“We also thank the young people from all the youth organisations of Henley. The baton of remembrance is being passed down the generations and this respect will continue for years to come.”

Cllr Gawrysiak then read out a letter written to his family by 19-year-old soldier Cyrus Thatcher, from Caversham, in case of his death.

Cyrus, a member of 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, was killed instantly after stepping on a roadside bomb while on patrol in Helmand Province on June 2, 2009.

The rifleman called his father Rob “my idol, my friend, my best friend, my teacher, my coach” and paid tribute to his “perfect” mother Helena Tym and his brothers, Zac and Steely.

Some people in the crowd were visibly moved by the letter, in which Cyrus asked his family not to mourn his death (the full text is printed right). After another hymn, the Act of Commitment, the Lord’s Prayer, the National Anthem and a blessing, poppy wreaths were laid on the town hall steps by members of the parade, the Mayor, Henley police sergeant Graham Pink and South Oxfordshire District Council leader Ann Ducker.

Paul Smyth, a major in the Territorial Army, was the parade marshal who led the groups around the market place to rapturous applause.

The crowd included Laura Bennett, whose husband Carl is a corporal in the 4th battalion Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers and is currently on a six-week training programme in Kenya.

The couple met at the service five years ago and have a three-year-old son Joe, who also attended this year’s event.

The service at St Mary’s Church in Whitchurch was led by Rev Claire Alcock. It was followed by a short walk to the war memorial where the congregation was joined by residents of Goring Heath.

Peter Dragonetti, who chairs Goring Heath Parish Council, recited Ode Of Remembrance and Royal British Legion member David Giles read the names of local men killed in conflict.

Wreaths were laid by Cllr Dragonetti, Harry Butterworth, chairman of Whitchurch Parish Council, and district councillor Pearl Slatter.

Stewart Lewins, director of the Pangbourne Silver Band, played the Last Post before the two-minute silence followed by Reveille.

Among the congregation was Colonel Guy Horridge, of the Royal Horse Artillery.

Cllr Butterworth said: “There seems to be more and more people here every year.”

In Watlington, there was a parade from the town hall to the war memorial.

Hundreds of people, incuding very small children, gathered for a short service conducted by Rev Christopher Evans, rector of St Leonard’s Church.

The names of those on the memorial were read out. The Last Post was sounded followed by the two-minute silence and then Reveille.

About 30 wreaths were laid at the foot of the memorial. One was placed by retired brigadier Nigel Mogg, whose mother lives in the town, and others by Watlington Primary School, Icknield Community College, beavers, cubs, scouts, brownies, girl guides and Watlington Youth Club.

A collection after the ceremony raised more than £900 for the Royal British Legion.

Jim Stubbs, who chairs the Watlington branch of the Legion, said: “There were a couple of poignant moments.

“The first was when the names of five members of the Harman family were read out and the second was during the silence when the pre-school age children were standing absolutely silent. The turnout was certainly very impressive and did not disappoint.”

Fifty cadets from the Oratory School’s Combined Cadet Force attended the annual memorial service in Woodcote.

The corps, under the command of Major Nevil Topham, were led by SUO Noah Cape and RSM Darren Lee.

Among those laying wreaths at the memorial was headteacher and Falklands War veteran Clive Dytor while also in attendance was contingent commander Marland Green.

The school remembered in their prayers Old Oratorian Capt Andrew Griffiths, 26, of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, who died in 2010 from injuries sustained in Helmand Province. The Last Post and Reveille were played by Oratory musicians Charlie Dart, Gary Howarth, Callum Walsh and Benjamin Danks.

There was also a service of remembrance at St Leonard’s Church in Woodcote.

On Monday, the school held a short service at the war memorial in its grounds to mark Armistice Day.

The whole school, including more than 100 cadets, gathered around the memorial while chaplain Monsignor Antony Conlon led prayers.

Pupils David Williams and Charlie Dart played the Last Post, accompanied by the school’s director of music Gary Howarth.

Following a two-minute silence, regimental sergeant major Darren Lee presented a poppy wreath to the headmaster.

Remembrance in Wargrave began on Friday with an annual dinner at Woodclyffe Hall served by Nikki Alston and her team.

The guest of honour and speaker was Lt Col James Bryant, commanding officer of the 7th Rifles and the local TA Battallion. He spoke about the activities of reservists.

About 100 people took part in the parade through the village on Sunday, which started in Church Street.

The St Sebastian’s Wokingham Band led the procession of Legion members, firefighters and representatives of children’s organisations.

Hundreds of people attended the service at St Mary’s Church, where the sermon was given by Brig Ian Dobbie, who served in Northern Ireland and the Gulf.

After the service, the congregation was joined by hundreds more people on Mill Green for remembrance worship.

In Benson, almost 600 people attended the remembrance service that followed a parade through the village to the war memorial.

A total of 18 wreaths were placed at the foot of the memorial, from organisations including the parish council, RAF and the British Legion.

There was then a church service conducted by Rev John Burrell.

About 200 people attended a service at Shiplake Cross memorial led by the Rev Michael Seymour Jones while about 50 people attended a service in Dunsden, which was home to First World War soldier and poet Wilfred Owen.

There was a parade to St Thomas’ Church in Goring where a service was conducted Rev Luci Heyn.

Wreaths were laid at the war memorial by Alan Strong, chairman of Goring Parish Council, Norman Radley, of the Royal British Legion, firefighters and youth groups.

More than 140 people attended a service at St John the Baptist Church in Kidmore End. Rev Canon Graham Foulis Brown, Rev Paul Rowan and Rev Dr Francis Andrews conducted a short service at the memorial in the churchyard.

Sue Biggs, chairwoman of Kidmore End Parish Council, and Douglas Kedge, chairman of Sonning Common Parish Council, laid wreaths. Sonning Common and Kidmore End primary schools attended as did 1st Sonning Common cubs.

The communities of Peppard and Rotherfield Greys came together on Remembrance Sunday. They met outside All Saints’ Church in Peppard before gathering around the war memorial for a two- minute silence.

Wreaths were laid by Nick Launders, on behalf of the Royal British Legion, Linda Collison, on behalf of the Peppard Parish Council, and the primary School and the church children’s choir laid a posy. There was then a short church service conducted by Morris Clegg, the senior lay preacher.

The congregation then marched to the memorial at Greys. The traffic was stopped and drivers turned off their vehicle engines for the duration of the service, which was also conducted by Mr Clegg.

Wreaths were laid by Lt Col Peter Blaker on behalf of the Royal British Legion and Terry Dudeney on behalf of the parish council.

There was then a two-minute silence and the roll of honour was read out. Maddie Cottam played the Last Post and Reveille at both memorials.

On Monday, almost 500 pupils, teachers and staff at Shiplake College stood in silence at 11am while year 11 pupil Greg Holt played the Last Post from the tower.

A service was conducted by Rev Stephen Cousins who said: “I’m sorry if you are uncomfortable. I am sorry that you have to stand in the rain. I am sorry if you have only had one piece of toast at break time but there are times when remembrance is uncomfortable…. I believe that is important that we remember the millions who lost their lives in the First World War and subsequent wars.”

text “Hello it’s me, this is gonna be hard for you to read but I write this knowing every time you think things get too much for you to handle (so don’t cry on it MUM!!) you can read this and hopefully it will help you all get through.

As Im writing this letter I can see you all crying and mornin my death but if I could have one wish in an “after life” it would be to stop your crying and continueing your dreams (as I did) because if I were watching only that would brake my heart. So dry your tears and put on a brave face for the rest of your friends and family who need you.

To my brothers Zac and Steely. You are both amazing men and will continue to be throughout your lives you both deserve to be happy and fofill all of your dreams.

Dad — my idol, my friend, my best friend, my teacher, my coach, everything I ever succeeded in my life I owe to you and maybe a little bit of me! You are a great man and the perfect role model and the past two years of being iifthe army I noticed that and me and you have been on the best level we have ever been. I thank you for nothing because I no all you have given to me is not there to be thanked for its there because you did it cause you love me and that is my most proudest thing I could ever say.

Mum, where do I start with you!! For a start your perfect, your smell, your hugs, the way your life was dedicated to us boys and especially the way you cared each and every step us boys took. I love you, you were the reason I made it as far as I did you were the reason I was loved more than any child I no and that made me feel special.

Your all such great individuals and I hope somehow this letter will help you get through this time!! Just remember do NOT mourn my death as hard as this will seem, celebrate a great life that has had its ups and downs. I love you all more than you would ever no and in your own individual ways helped me get through it all. I wish you all the best with your dreams.

Remember chin up head down. With love Cyrus we

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