ARMISTICE Day was marked in Holybourne on Saturday with the annual Service of Remembrance around the war memorial on London Road.
Just as the rain started, an ‘air-raid siren’ sounded over Holybourne at 10.45am, calling villagers to take part.
The parade marched on from the Andrew’s Endowed School car park, led by the Cambrai Company Corps of Drums from Surrey Army Cadets.
Event organiser Major (Retd) Adrian Stratta said: “It was a fine effort for this young and talented band, led by SSI Fiona Watson, and many of the musicians were on parade for the first time.”
Parade marshal Sergeant Tom Bagley, from the Air Cadets, co-ordinating the standards of the British Legion and RAF Association Standards, led the parade troops from the Army and Air Cadets, the Scouts, and both Eggar’s and Andrew’s Endowed School.
The invited dignitaries and speakers gathered at the memorial, having assembled in the Old Prince of Wales pub, where landlords Roger and Gwyneth Eldridge offered their customary Stirrup Cup. Major Stratta introduced the event, emphasising the village focus and inclusion, no matter the weather, and welcomed Padre Wendy Mallas to conduct the service.
The speaker this year was Brigadier Tim Carmichael, a resident of Holybourne who spoke eloquently about his own remembrance reflections covering 32 years of service; reminding those present that in conflict, no matter the reason or justification, “people predominantly fight for their fellow man, the soul beside them, for the love of their fellow man”.
His speech was illustrated by personal examples of former enemies who had since become firm friends, leading Brig Carmichael to propose that, without effective post-war reconciliation, no conflict can ever really end; and that we should each strive to contribute to our own version of harmony and reconciliation.
David Tomlinson, chairman of Holybourne Village Association, then read the names of the fallen from the First World War, followed by the Exhortation read by Commander John Fitzpatrick RN. Trumpeter Tony Wilman sounded The Last Post as the standards were dipped at 11am for the two-minute silence, resolute in the rain. The Union Flag was raised as Mr Wilman played Reveille.
Capturing the moment, the Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, Alan Titchmarsh, delivered a moving rendition of Rupert Brooke’s poem The Soldier. Placing the poem into context, Mr Titchmarsh asked those present to think about the meaning of conflict, to reflect on the possible thoughts of soldiers from past wars, perhaps expressed and felt in letters to home from the front, to loved ones, against the juxtaposition of conflict.
He then laid the first wreath, followed by East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds, Alton mayor Dean-Paul Phillips, county councillor Andrew Joy, district councillor Glynis Watts, and David Tomlinson for the Holybourne Village Association, with the Armed Forces being represented by Cdr John Fitzpatrick RN, Brig Tim Carmichael and Wg Cmd Tess Pestridge, SMO RAF Odiham.
Derek Morne represented the Royal British Legion and Cecil ‘Pop’ Chandler the RAF Association; the Scouts and the schools laid their wreath for the village. For the Church, Warden Keith Arrowsmith-Oliver followed by David Andrews from Holybourne’s Masonic Lodge. Finally, Reginald Cuff was assisted in laying his wreath by Sally Green for The Lawn, Friends of the Elderly Residential Home.
CPO Ian Shepherd RN read the Kohima Epitaph, before the Reverend Andrew Micklefield conducted the Act of Commitment and the blessing.
Sgt Bagley marched the parade past the Lawns, where the residents were sitting patiently, to pay their respects and remember. And finally to the White Hart, for a reception and Remembrance Punch, followed by lunch as old comrades recalled past glories and new friends were made.
“Clearly,” said Major Stratta, “we will remember them.”
Major Stratta has expressed thanks to the many villagers who contributed to make the event happen; from Karen Bennett for organising the wreaths, to the road marshals of the Peter and Dors Packham, John Grey and Phil Croucher; and to David Tigg for generating the PA system.