April Last Post

With the Falklands Conflict starting 40 years ago this month, our April ceremony focussed entirely on that conflict.

We remembered a very sad event where three civilian Falkland Islanders were accidentally killed by British Forces in a friendly fire incident. The three women were killed by British shelling during the night of 11/12 June. Those killed were Susan Whitley, aged 30, and a British citizen, and Falkland Islands natives Doreen Bonner, aged 36 and Mary Goodwin, aged 82.

Our poem was PTSD by Tony McNally. Tony was 19 in 1982 when he went to the Falkland Islands as a member of the Royal Artillery. It was his experience of war, and in particular seeing the devastation of the Sir Galahad attack that sadly enabled Tony to write such a poem. It was read out by a member of the public, and is written here, all rights acknowledged.

PTSD 
I’m happy and sad
Compassionate and bad
Can’t sleep at night
Can’t do anything right
I wanna be alone
But not on my own
I’m in love but I hate
I’m a burden on the state
I’m possessed by the war
I killed what for?
I see shrinks
I see docs
Remember my arctic socks
I’m disloyal cause I’m ill
Is it right to kill?
I can hide in a crowd
My face a grey shroud
I cry for no reason
My country shouts treason
All the pills and the booze
Make bad memories ooze
I was 19 in June
Under a bright crystal moon
I died that day
But I’m still here to say
For the brave and the free.
My award – PTSD.

Our Standard Bearer was Alan Lopez, and our Senior Standard Bearer paraded the Union Flag. Mrs Ruth Moore sounded the Last Post.

Thank you to Tony McNally for the poem, and Kevin Barker for the photographs.

March Last Post

A lovely spring afternoon, our March ceremony was held in sunshine with many members of the public present.

We remembered Private Francis Maracle who died exactly 80 years ago today. Private Maracle was a Canadian citizen and arrived in England in July 1941 and dies less than a year later, probably the result of an accident. Aged just 19 years old, he is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery in Plot 36, grave G6.

Private Maracle is remembered at two locations in Canada: on the war memorial in his home town of Deseronto and also the Six Nations-Mississauga War Memorial Marker, erected by the Six Nations and-Mississauga Indians at Veterans’ Park, Ohsweken, Brant County, Ontario. The latter listing shows that Private Maracle was a Native American of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tusarora tribes, the six nations who constitute the largest First Nation, indigenous people’s reserve in Canada.

Rob Bennett officiated at the ceremony and we were grateful to the young member of the public and a veteran for saying the Exhortation and the Kohima Epitaph.

Alan Lopez was our Standard Bearer, with Tom Milne parading the Union Flag. We also had the US flag, and standards from the Artists Rifles, the Woking Royal Naval Association and the Royal British Legion Bisley, Knaphill and West End branch.

A student from Gordon’s School sounded the Last Post and Ian Cartwright was the Parade Marshall.

Afterwards we had refreshments at the Trench Experience.

  • Eddie Jones and Tom Milne
  • March Last Post
  • March Last Post
  • Paul McCue delivering the Individual Remembrance
  • Sounding the Last Post
  • Sounding the Last Post
  • Reading the Kohima Epitaph
  • Dismiss
  • Refreshments at The Trench Experience

Thank you to Paul McCue for the research and text, and Mike Hillman for the photographs, used with permission.

February Last Post

Our February Last Post was held in chilly conditions with some sun shining. The Gordon’s School Pipes and Drums were originally scheduled to travel to Belgium for remembrance, but as the restrictions in place made that challenging, we were grateful they paraded with us.

We remembered two individuals. One of whom we have briefly remembered before, but with it being the 80th anniversary of his death a detailed account of his life and death were given.

Gunner Thomas Troy, 1st Light Anti-aircraft Regt, Royal Canadian Artillery, died 6th February 1942, aged 40. He was the son of Thomas Franis and Effie Jane Troy, of Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada, husband of Iva Troy, also of Woodstock and the father of three children. One son and three brothers were also serving in the Canadian Army. His cause of death is not known and he is buried in plot 36, grave E2, Brookwood Military Cemetery.

Gunner Thomas Troy
Gunner Thomas Troy

Lieutenant André Bloch (who served as Lieutenant Alan George Boyd) was a secret agent of F (French) Section, Special Operations Executive (SOE).  He was born 19th June 1914 in Paris, the son of French Jews, Edmond and Suzanne Bloch.

A graduate of Lyon university, he worked as a solicitor’s clerk. When war came, he served in the French Army as a liaison officer with the British Expeditionary Force and after the fall of France in 1940, came to England and chose to join the Royal Fusiliers of the British Army, rather than the Free French forces of General de Gaulle. He volunteered for SOE in February 1941 and began his training as an agent at STS 5, Wanborough Manor, not far from Brookwood. He was commissioned into the General List of the British Army and was parachuted into France in September 1941 as radio operator for the AUTOGYRO network. At one time he was the only F Section radio operator working in the Nazi-occupied zone of France and served five different agents.

Bloch is believed to have been arrested in Le Mans by the Germans on or about 13 November 1941. One version of the reason for his capture is that a French neighbour had denounced him as a Jew. It was later reported that he had remained silent despite beatings and torture and though he had been caught with a radio, it is doubtful if the Germans discovered that their prisoner was a British officer.  Normally, any such captured agent would have been deported to Germany, but Bloch instead suffered the fate of many of his fellow Frenchmen caught in resistance activity.  He was tried by a German military court, sentenced to death and taken to Fort Mont-Valérien in Suresnes in the western suburbs of Paris and it was there, in a clearing close to the fort’s walls, that Bloch was shot on 11 February 1942.  Bloch was the first SOE agent to be executed by the Nazis in France. He was aged 27.

Lieutenant André Bloch
Lieutenant André Bloch

Our poem this month was written by a colleague of André Bloch, F Section SOE agent Lieutenant Maurice Pertschuk, Captured in France in April 1943 and eventually sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, Pertschuk wrote this (untitled) poem while in captivity. He was executed on 29th March 1945, shortly before the camp was liberated, but his poems were found and later published in Paris in 1946. In 2003 they were published in English as ‘Leaves of Buchenwald’.

The murmuring pain,

Of the rain,

In my heart, and the music that streams

Through my dreams,

Each note like a petal

That falls on the grass,

In each petal, the tinkle

Of glass.

Oh Lord, let me dream,

Let me float away

On a

wave,

From this grimy hell;

Let the sea wind spray,

And the ocean sway

Its soothing swell.

Let me dream of a world of silence,

– Oh let me try! –

With the moon, gently rocking

In a dreaming sky.

Our Standard Bearer was Alan Lopez, and Eddie Jones paraded the Union Flag. There was also Standards from the Royal British Legion Bisley, Knaphill and West End Branch, and the Woking Royal Naval Association paraded by Norman Holden and Keith Tarling respectively.

Mrs Ruth Moore sounded the Last Post and the ceremony was officiated by Paul McCue.

Afterwards refreshments were held at The Trench Experience. Thanks to Paul McCue for text and Mike Hillman for the photographs, used with permission.