We welcomed the Surrey Chapter UK and the Household Division Veteran Riders Club to our June ceremony today.
We remembered Private William Dean. Private Dean of the 9th Battalion, The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) was killed on 6 June 1941, exactly 80 years ago today. He was 29 years old.
Our poem was called Keep Moving:
Keep moving lads … keep moving Don’t huddle on this beach Don’t make yourselves a target For those guns up there to reach Keep moving lads … keep moving There’s the seawall … over there Keep moving lads … keep moving Don’t falter … or despair Don’t look … at comrades falling Around you … everywhere Keep moving lads … keep moving We can take this … on the chin Keep moving … and keep praying Before those guns … they zero in.
We were delighted to see our Senior Standard Bearer, Tom Milne parade the Union Flag for the first time this year. Alan Lopez paraded the Brookwood Last Post Standard and Mrs Ruth Moore sounded The Last Post. Mr Paul McCue researched the Individual Remembrance and read the poem.
We were honoured to have the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks attend on one of her final engagements of her mayoralty year. Cllr Hunwicks has attended three ceremonies during her mayoralty.
Our individual remembrance element centred on five men of the Pioneer Corps (later the Royal Pioneer Corps and now part of the Royal Logistics Corps) who lost their lives exactly 80 years ago during the Second World War.
Little is known of them or of the nature of their deaths, but it is thought they were killed in one of the (at least) 26 ships that were sunk by the German air force, the Luftwaffe, during the evacuation of Allied forces from mainland Greece in late April/early May of 1941. They have no known graves and are therefore commemorated on Brookwood’s Memorial to the Missing, 1939-45.
They are: on panel 20, column 3: Privates George Almond, Private Douglas Aubrey Elston and L/Cpl Frederick Good; and on panel 21, column 1: Private Percy Smithson and Private William Mark
Our poem today was, fittingly, written by Cpl C. Fisher of the Pioneer Corps and appeared in the regimental journal, The Pioneer, in August 1943.
Our Standard Bearer was Alan Lopez and Mrs Ruth Moore sounded The Last Post.
The April Last Post was short and a continuation of all Last Posts this year.
We remembered Special Operations Executive Volunteer Fortunato Picchi. First SOE agent to parachute into enemy territory – and first to be executed. On 6th April 1941, Fortunato Picchi became what is believed to be the first member of SOE to be executed. He was 44 years old, a former head waiter in London with strong anti-fascist views, Picchi had been trained by SOE and was seconded to act as interpreter to OPERATION COLOSSUS of 11 Special Air Service Bn (formerly 2 Commando, later Parachute Regiment), the first British airborne operation of WW2, against an aqueduct in southern Italy.
Picchi is therefore believed to have been the first SOE agent to parachute (10th/11th Feb 1941) into enemy territory. Picchi (along with all 38 men of COLOSSUS) was captured. He was reportedly tortured and tried as a traitor on 5th April 1941. Found guilty, he was taken to Forte Bravetta on the outskirts of Rome early the next morning, bound to a chair and, as a condemned traitor, shot in the back at dawn on 6th April – Easter Sunday of 1941.
Paul McCue read the poem and delivered the Individual Remembrance. Our Standard Bearer was Alan Lopez and Mrs Ruth Moore sounded the Last Post.