Today we held a short ceremony, with around a dozen people attending.
We read the poem ‘What I Miss Most’ by James Love.
I miss the lads.
I miss those crisp clear nights,
when the frost glistens in the moonlight.
I miss those lonely exposed hills,
lashed by the rain.
I miss the young and innocent faces,
some of whom we’ll never see again.
I miss the laughter and the crack.
I miss their morbid humour,
the childish pranks and unspoken laws.
I miss the sense of belonging,
that unique bond.
I miss youth at its best,
though I’ll grow old, unlike the rest.
What I miss most?
I miss the lads.
(C) James Love
We remembered Lieutenant Commander David I Balfour. Lt Cdr Balfour was aboard HMS Sheffield when it was hit by an Argentine Exocet missile on 4th May 1982 during the Falklands conflict. He was 37 years old and lived in Hindhead, Surrey.
We will remember them.
Afterwards we went round to The Trench Experience for mulled wine.
Today we held a predominantly American themed ceremony. Individual American servicemen often joined Commonwealth forces in WWI before America formally entered the war. Many names on the Menin Gate are American servicemen.
We deviated slightly from our normal service and remembered two individuals. Two days ago, Major-General Otto Schwarz’s ashes were interred in the civilian section of the cemetery reserved for Czechoslovakian servicemen that did not die during the wars. Immediately next to the RAF Memorial, his wish was to be as close to his wartime comrades as possible.
We also remembered American Pilot Officer Ieuan ‘ Rex’ Haddock, killed on 30 June 1944 during a failed take off from Dunsfold Aerodrome. Rex is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery in plot 54.J.9.
We will remember them.
Our Standard Bearer was Tony Brannigan and our bugler was Mrs Ruth Moore.
The individual remembrances were read out by Mr Paul McCue, a military historian.
Afterwards we went round to the Trench Experience to warm up.
Today, in the cold 4C temperature we held the short ceremony.
We read the Thomas Hardy poem ‘A Call to National Service’.
For our Individual Remembrance we remembered Major Oliver ‘Trooper Bluegum’ Hogue. Major Hogue was an Australian who fought in Gallipoli initially, then fought in the battle of Romani in 1916. He was then transferred to the Imperial Camel Corps and fought in Raga, Magdhaba and Gaza.
In July 1918, he was transferred to the 14th Light Horse Regiment and was in Damascus when the Turkish surrendered. He caught influenza and died whilst on leave in London in March 1919 and is buried in Brookwood Cemetery.
We had five standards on parade and our Standard Bearer was Tony Brannigan.
Afterwards we went round to the Trench Experience to try and warm up.
We read the poem ‘Christmas Day On The Somme’ by Leslie George Rub who also featured in our Individual Remembrance.
Leslie George Rub was 23 when he enlisted at Towoomba, Queensland, Australia on 25th August 1915. He sailed for Alexandria on board the H.M.A.T. Wandilla from Brisbane, Queensland. From Alexandria he was transferred from 26th Battalion to 2nd Pioneers because of his carpentry experience, and sent first to France, and then on to Flanders in Belgium.
In autumn 1917, seven weeks after the start of the Third Battle of Ypres, Australian troops finally captured Westhoek Ridge, where German strongholds were manned by machine gunners. Three days later Leslie Rub and other men from his company were in the night making a road between Broodseinde Ridge and Westhoek Ridge when they were shelled. Leslie was hit in the kidneys by shrapnel. He died the next morning, on the 23rd September 1917, at the 1st Australian Ambulance. He is buried at Dickebusch War Cemetry, 5 km southwest of Ypres.
Our Standard Bearer was Tom Milne and Mrs Ruth Moore sounded the Last Post. Alan Lopez from the Maverick Explorer Scout represented Woking District Scouts. Afterwards we retired to The Trench Experience for refreshments.
Today’s Last Post was in conjunction with Woking District Scouts. 90 uniformed young people, together with leaders and the 1st Claygate Scout and Guide Band made for an incredible and moving ceremony. There were approximately 200 people in attendance including the Mayor of Woking and the Surrey Scouts County Commissioner.
Woking District Standard Bearers
1st Claygate Scout and Guide Band
Woking District Scouts
We remembered Marc Nobel from Norfolk. Marc was 10 years old when he attended the first ever Scout camp by Baden-Powell on Brownsea Island in 1907.
Marc went on to become a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery and died of wounds received near Boeshinghe, Ypres on July 1st 1917, ‘Whilst showing great bravery in trying to get help for his wounded comrades’. He was just 20 years of age.
Marc is buried in the Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Elverdinghe.
Tom Milne was our Standard Bearer and our bugler was one of the young members of the 1st Claygate Scout and Guide Band.
Afterwards, many went round to The Trench Experience where there were refreshments and a camp fire to keep people warm.
Today was the final Last Post for Mrs Sue Stallard acting in the capacity as our Standard Bearer. She has passed the Standard over to Tony Brannigan for future meetings. Next year the BLP Union Flag is 50 years old, and Sue will be our Senior Standard Bearer and will parade the Union Flag occasionally.
Hooge Crater Cemetery
Today we remembered three men who were killed exactly 100 years ago today on 1st October 1917. Serjeant P O’Neill, Gunner Patrick McGuill and Gunner William McKenna of the ‘A’ Bty 315 Brigade (2nd Army Support) killed on Hill 60 part of the Ypres Salient. They are buried next to each other in the Hooge Crater Cemetery. We will remember them.
We also were fortunate enough to dedicate the new Standard for the Artist’s Rifles. The Standard Bearer was Eddie Jones.
The Maverick Explorer Unit represented Woking District Scouts and the Standard Bearer was Alan Lopez.
Yesterday, our September ceremony was held in conjunction with members of the Royal British Legion. The Carshalton, Wallington and District Branch were dedicating a new Standard and we were very privileged to witness the march off of the old Standard, and the march in of the new Standard.
Marching off of the old Standard
March in of the new Standard
We remembered Woking resident John Parton Gabriel. In September 1939 John was selected for special training due to his influential friends in the Balkans, his fluent French and German and working knowledge of Russian. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lt and served as an Intelligence Officer with GCHQ in France.
On 7th June 1940, he married Clothilde Catherine Ward, whose mother was of German descent. Shortly afterwards, John was informed that his services would no longer be required in intelligence because of the perceived security risk. He was posted to the Royal Berkshire Regiment for a brief period until the ban was lifted some six months later. He re-joined the Intelligence Corps with the rank of acting Captain.
After serving for a period in Cairo, he was actually travelling incognito on an armed merchant ship in convoy, along with three other intelligence officers. The ship was torpedoed but John and his colleagues were rescued by another vessel, only for it to be torpedoed some hours later. This time he did not escape and was declared lost at sea on 24th February 1941.
At the end of the ceremony and after the dedication of the new Standard, Mr David Plattern, Chairman of Surrey County Royal British Legion and Brookwood Last Post Chairman, Malcolm Head inspected the Standards.
The Last Post and Reveille were sounded by Mrs Ruth Moore.
Afterwards, we went round to The Trench Experience for some refreshments and to listen to some tunes by Keith.