July Last Post

Today we remembered the contribution that people from the Muslim faith have given to conflicts and those who paid the ultimate price.

A large gathering of Muslims and others paid homage to WW1 Muslim soldiers by visiting the Muslim Plot at the Military Cemetery and then joining us for our Remembrance ceremony.

The prayer was led by Imam Hafiz Hashmi -the Head Imam of the historic Shahjahan Mosque. Major Mohammed Naveed – Armed Forces Muslim Association gave a brief talk on the Muslim involvement of the Indian Army in the British Armed Forces past and present.

Our Individual Remembrance was read by Dr Zafar Iqbal for Sepoy Sikander Khan, who is buried in the Muslim plot.

Our Standard bearer was Alan Lopez and our bugler was Ruth Moore.

We were extremely honoured to have the Gordon’s School Pipes and Drums band attend and a lone piper performed the Piper’s Lament as his final act for the school.

The service was concluded with an inspection of the Standards by Major Mohammed Naveed and singing of the British National Anthem. Afterwards everyone went round to the Trench Experience for refreshments. Photos by Kevin Barker.

June Last Post

Today, there were many people to see several organisations parade their Standards in memory of the fallen. In addition to the BLP, there were Standards from the Artist’s Rifles, multiple Scout groups and we were honoured by the WAAF/WRAF/RAF(W) Association mobilising their Standards.

We remembered two individuals. S/L Dickie Leven was a bomber pilot at Dunsfold and flew alongside eight Dutchmen, from 320 Sqn, Royal Dutch Naval Air Service, operating as part of the RAF’s 139 Wing at Dunsfold.

We also remembered Captain Arthur Steele of the French Section, Special Operations Executive. Captain Steele of the MONK circuit in Marseille, was executed at Buchenwald concentration camp in September 1944 and is remembered on the Memorial to the Missing 1939-1945, Brookwood Military Cemetery. Supporter of the Secret WW2 Learning Network, Carole Yeats travelled from Southampton to honour the memory of Captain Steele. Carole’s father had served with Steele in the pre-war band of the Royal Artillery before their ways parted when Steele volunteered for the SOE. Carole was invited to read the Exhortation as part of the Last Post ceremony.

In a rare appearance and the first time in almost a year, the BLP Union Flag was paraded by Mrs Sue Stallard. The BLP Standard by Alan Lopez. Mrs Ruth Moore was a bugler and Bert Steed was our padre.

Mrs Tracy Watson, Chair of the WAAF/WRAF/RAF(W) Association was invited to inspect the Standards at the end of the ceremony before we went round to the Trench Experience for some refreshments.

May Last Post

Today, with around 30 people in attendance, we ran the long ceremony. The Mayor of Woking, Cllr Will Forster was in attendance for the third time during his mayoral year for which we are grateful.

We remembered Ronald William Poulton Palmer of the 1st/4th Bn Royal Berkshire Regiment. Son of Professor Edward Bagnall Poulton and Mrs. Emily Palmer Poulton, of Wykeham House, Oxford. Captain of the England Rugby Football XV in 1914. He was 25 years old when he was killed on 5th May 1915. He is buried in plot B.11 in the Hyde Park Corner (Royal Berks) Cemetery, Hainaut, Belgium.

Mr Rob Bennett was our reverend, Mrs Sue Stallard, our Standard Bearer, Mrs Ruth Moore, out bugler and for the first time, Mr Ian Cartwright our Parade Marshall.

Afterwards we retired to the Trench Experience and caught up with a troop of Czech Republic Scouts that had attended a ceremony elsewhere in the cemetery.

April Last Post

Today we were joined by Beavers, Cubs and Scouts from Horsell who brought with them two Standards and were impeccable on parade. There were seven Standards on parade and we had around 40 people in total.

Paul McCue from the Secret WW2 Learning network read the poem ‘After the soldier’s funeral’ by Samuel Francis Smith (1808 – 1895) and performed the Individual Remembrance.

We remembered Charles Milne Skepper, born on 26 February 1905 in Richmond Surrey. He was a gifted linguist, speaking German, Spanish, French and Chinese.

In 1939 he volunteered for military service in Britain and was later in charge of the propaganda broadcasting station of the British Ministry of Information in Shanghai. In 1942 he applied to join the Special Operations Executive (SOE).

Skepper was flown into occupied France by a Lysander of the RAF’s 161 (Special Duties) Squadron, from RAF Tangmere, on 17 June 1943 to work with the French Resistance. He organised a number of significant acts of sabotage, but was arrested with others of his team, and local French helpers, on 23 or 25 March 1944.

It is not known precisely what happened to Skepper but a year after the war had ended, Skepper’s death was officially recognised by the War Office on 28 October 1946, where it was recorded as ‘Presumed died while in enemy hands on or shortly after 1 April 1944’.

Our padre was Bert Steed, our bugler was Mrs Ruth Moore and our Standard bearer was Mrs Sue Stallard.

Afterwards most of us went round to the Trench Experience for refreshments.

Original biography of Charles Skepper by Chris Husbands, Emeritus Reader in the Department of Sociology at LSE. Photos by Kevin Barker.

March Last Post

Today in the heavy rain, we held a short ceremony with just under 40 people in attendance. We remembered Dennis Edgar Hayes, service number A/6038. Son of Georgina Hayes, Dennis was a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment and died on 3rd March 1944, aged 25. He is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery.

There were around a dozen adult Scouters from Woking District in attendance.

Paul McCue read the poem ‘Soldier’s Dream’ by Wilfred Owen. Our bugler was Mrs Ruth Moore and our Standard Bearer was Mrs Sue Stallard. Photographs by Tony McCallum of WyrdLight Photography.

Afterwards we went round to the Trench Experience for some refreshments.

February Last Post

Today, with snow and ice on the ground, relatively few made it to the short Last Post Ceremony. Members who had a considerable distance to travel were discouraged from coming. As such, there were around 15 of us, and our Standard was not on parade. We followed the short ceremony.

We remembered Private Richard John De Mansfield Absolon from the Parachute Regiment, service number 24547055. Private Absolon was killed in the Falklands on 11/12 June 1982. He was a scout / sniper with the 3rd Battalion and was tasked with gaining information on the enemy deployed in defensive positions in the Mount Longdon area.

On the night of 11/12 June, with his partner, he led B Company on to Mount Longdon in the first assault to capture the position. He was tragically killed by mortar fire the next morning. He was awarded the Military Medal and was from Weybridge, Surrey.

We had Standards from the Artists Rifles and the Maverick Explorer Unit. Our bugler was Mrs Ruth Moore.

Afterwards we had refreshments at The Trench Experience.

Credit: war-memorial.net and Kevin Barker (photos).

January Last Post

Today in the relatively mild temperatures, just over 30 people attended the January Last Post. We were without our padre, and so performed the short ceremony.

We remembered two individuals; Private Walter George Woolford of the 1st Battalion, Canterbury Regiment and Pilot Officer Brian Alphonsus McConnell DFM.

Private Woolford was aged 31 when on the 6th January 1919 it is believed he was a victim of the Spanish influence epidemic. He was a New Zealander from Auckland.

Pilot Office McConnell was a member of the Royal Australian Air Force and was a navigator in a mosquito fighter-bomber with the 464 (RAAF) Squadron flying from RAF Hunsdon, Hertfordshire. He was aged 21 when he died on 6th January 1944.

Both are buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery.

Our Standard bearer was Mrs Sue Stallard, Paul McCue read the poem and Individual Remembrances and Antony McCallum was our photographer.

Afterwards we went round to The Trench Experience for refreshments.