December Last Post

Today in the cold we held the short ceremony with a representative from the Woking Royal Navy Association parading their Standard.

We read The Evacuee: The Poem by Arthur King and our Individual Remembrance remembered Stoker 1st Class, George David Spinner. George was aboard HMS Hood when it was sunk by the German Battleship Bismarck on 24 the May 1941 during the Battle of Denmark Strait. He is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval memorial.

Gordon’s School Pipes and Drums attended and they very kindly read the Exhortation, played the Piper’s Lament and recited the Kohima Epitaph. We are extremely pleased that young people wish to participate in our ceremony as young people being involved is part of our mission.

Our Standard Bearer was Alan Lopez. The Union Flag was paraded by our Senior Standard Bearer Tom Milne. Ruth Moore sounded the Last Post and Reveille.

Afterwards we went round to the Trench Experience for mulled wine and mince pies. A nice way to round off an outstanding year for the Brookwood Last Post Association, and we look forward to next year.

November Last Post

Today, we held a magnificent ceremony with several hundred people attending.

The Mayor of Woking, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks attended along with many Scouts, Cubs and Beavers from Woking District Scouts.

The 1st Claygate Scout and Guide band led a parade of Scouters and accompanied the hymn and National Anthem.

Gordon’s School Pipes and Drums led the parade including the Mayor and members of the public.

Paul McCue delivered the Individual Remembrance, and read a poem by 14 year old Joshua Dyer called ‘One Thousand Men are Walking’. The poem was written this year as part of a Remembrance Day project.

For the Individual Remembrance, we remembered Pilot Officer Emil Fechtner DFC RAFVR. Emil Fechtner was born on September 16th 1916 in Prague. He was in the Czech Air Force when the Germans took over Czechoslovakia in March 1939.

He joined 310 (Czech) Squadron at its formation at RAF Duxford on July 10th, 1940. He downed several German planes, including an ME109, DO17 and a ME110. He survived a crash, collision in mid-air before being killed when he crashed near Duxford on 29th October 1940, piloting a Hurricane. He is buried in Plot 28, the Czechoslovakian plot of Brookwood Military Cemetery.

Four Scouts said the Exhortation and the Last Post and Reveille was perfectly sounded by a member of 1st Claygate Scout and Guide band.

Gordon’s School Pipe Major played a highly emotional Piper’s Lament.

Today, the Union Flag was paraded by our Senior Standard Bearer Tom Milne and our Standard was paraded by Alan Lopez. Our chaplain was Rob Bennet and the sound was managed by the Scouts, for which we are very grateful.

At the end of the ceremony, the Mayor inspected the Standards and presented brass shields to the Scouts carrying the Standards that attended the 11 o’clock ceremony on 11 November 2018 at the Menin Gate as part of the centenary commemorations.

Afterwards we retired to the Trench Experience for refreshments.

For a full set of photos by Antony McCallum, see here.

Photo credits include Kevin Barker, Brian Davis and Antony McCallum.

October Last Post

Our October ceremony was a quiet affair with around 35 people attending.

We remembered Richard Read, killed on 15 December 1914, aged 21. Private Read is commemorated at the Menin Gate, Ypres.

Alan Lopez was our Standard Bearer, Bert Stead our padre, Mrs Ruth Moore sounded the Last Post and Tom Milne our Parade Marshal. We were also joined by the Royal British Legion Surrey County Standard Bearer, Ashley Dickinson.

Afterwards we had refreshments at the Trench Experience.

Ypres 75th Liberation Ceremony

Today marks 75 years since Ypres was liberated by the Polish armies, and the responsibility for sounding the Last Post transferred from Brookwood back to Ypres.

When Ypres was occupied in 1940, the daily service ceased. Mr. Edgar Ashley Cook, MBE, a successful Woking businessman (and a WWI veteran) heard about this and was upset by the stoppage. Together with a group of friends, he formed an organisation to replicate the Ypres service and the Surrey Last Post Association was born.

The first service was held in Brookwood Cemetery in January 1941.  Captain GFW Wilson, DSO, RN was the first President. Despite the difficulties of those dark days and other commitments, the service was held as regularly as possible for the next four years.

On the 6th September 1944 the Poles rolled into Ypres and the nightly ceremony was restarted under the Menin Gate. Tonight’s ceremony was the 27,393th uninterrupted nightly ceremony held at the Menin Gate since the liberation.

Four Members of the Brookwood Last Post Association were at the ceremony tonight in Ypres. Our Chairman, Kevin Davis, Senior Standard Bearer, Tom Milne, Standard Bearer Eddie Jones and Treasurer, Stephen Wood. Our Chairman said the Kohima Epitaph.

We are extremely proud of Brookwood’s links to the Last Post Association and humbled by our involvement today.

September Last Post

The September Last Post was a Jewish themed ceremony with the Israeli Ambassador, Mr Mark Regev in attendance.

Paul McCue of the Secret WW2 Learning Network led tributes to a number of Jewish people lost in WW2, including the 23 Jewish volunteers for OPERATION BOATSWAIN, mounted jointly by the Special Operations Executive and the Palmach in May 1941. All 23, and their British liaison officer, Major Sir Anthony Palmer, are commemorated on Brookwood’s Memorial to the Missing 1939-45. In particular, and on behalf of Ambassador Gershon Gan, we remembered his cousin Amiram Shohat, one of the 23.

Our Individual Remembrance remembered the other Jewish agents of SOE and especially Captain Enzo Sereni and Ensign Denise Bloch, both also listed on the Memorial.

We welcomed family members, one of whom had come from New Zealand, of Flying Officer Ernest Fooks RNZAF and Warrant Officer Terry Riordan. Both had been commemorated, along with their crew members, the previous day (31st Aug) by the unveiling of a memorial where their aircraft crashed, following a mid-air collision, close to Dunsfold aerodrome, Surrey.

We also remembered the brother of Ernest Fooks, Pilot Officer Harry Fooks, who was killed in a flying accident 21 July 1941 and who is buried close to his brother, in plot 2, row F, grave 7.

Our Standard Bearer was Mr Alan Lopez, our bugler was Ms Taz Beattie, our Parade Marshal was Ian Cartwright and Mr Rob Bennett officiated over the ceremony.

Afterwards we retired to the Trench Experience for a cup of tea.

August Last Post

Today before the monthly ceremony, Members of the Brookwood Last Post Association visited the Woking Peace Garden on Horsell Common.

BLP Members at the Peace Garden, Horsell Common, Woking.

Our ceremony today was a multi-faith ceremony with representatives from the Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, & Jewish faiths, all reciting verses and prayers. The Mayor of Woking, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks was in attendance.

We remembered Flying Officer Arthur Tindale and Soldato Riccardo Pisillo,

Flying Officer Arthur Tindale, 406605 Royal Australian Air Force, serving with 267 Sqn RAF, died in an accident 4 August 1944, aged 33. A former pupil of Guildford Grammar School, Guildford, Western Australia. He is buried at plot 4, row O, grave 8.

Soldato (Private) Riccardo Pisillo, 66853 Italian Army died 4 August 1944. He is buried at plot 16, row C, grave 8.

Rob Bennett and Bert Steed ran the ceremony. Mandy Johns sounded the Last Post, Alan Lopez carried the BLP Standard, and Paul McCue of The Secret WW2 Learning Network read out the individual remembrances.

Afterwards we retired to the Trench Experience for refreshments.

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.