May Last Post

Today in the wonderful sunshine, we were joined by members of the Free Czechoslovak Air Force Association. The FCAFA hold a couple of ceremonies at the cemetery each year and we were honoured to have them join us. The Mayor of Woking, Cllr Graham Cundy and Cllr John Kingsbury in his last role representing Woking Borough Council also attended.

We remembered Jaroslav Štěrbáček, who was a member of the Czech Air Force in the 30s, prior to transferring to the RAF in 1940. He was posted to the newly formed 310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron which flew Hurricane Mk 1s. Jaroslav flew his first operational patrol flight on 19 August and five more during August.

At 13:00, 31 August, twelve 12 Hurricanes from 310 Sqn took-off for an operational patrol. At 13:25, flying at an altitude of 12,000 feet over the Thames Estuary, they saw a Luftwaffe bomber formation along with numerous Me 109 for fighter support. 310 Sqn Hurricanes attacked and in the resultant dog-fight, Štěrbáček’s Hurricane was last seen attacking a Do 17 before being shot down by a Me 109 about 13:30. His Hurricane was seen to go into a steep dive with Jaroslav managing to bail-out. The Hurricane crashed near Romford, Essex, but Jaroslav landed into the Thames Estuary and is believed to have drowned, his body was never found.

P/O Jaroslav Štěrbáček is commemorated on panel 10 of the RAF’s Runnymede Memorial. He has the dubious distinction of being the 1st of 511 Czech airmen inc 1 WAAF to be killed in RAF service during WW2. He was 27 years old.

Our bugler was Mrs Ruth Moore, the BLP Standard was paraded by Tom Milne and the Union Flag by Mrs Sue Stallard. We had an additional seven Standards on parade and a number of air force cadets.

After the ceremony we had some refreshments at The Trench Experience.

April Last Post

Today our Last Post ceremony was RAF themed, it being 100 years ago since the formation of the RAF. For this reason, we chose to extend our individual remembrance to four individuals, two from WWI and two from WWII.

Cadet Axel Bendix, 43rd Wing, Royal Flying Corps, aged 22 was undergoing training at Fort Worth, Texas, USA when he was killed on 21 January 1918.

Pte Francis Redwood, aged 30, of Wantage, Berkshire died on 19 November 1918 in unknown circumstances.

Both are commemorated on the WWI – The Brookwood 1914-1918 Memorial for those with no known grave.

Warrant Officer Terence Riordan, aged 22, RAFVR of 98 Sqn RAF and Flying Officer Ernest Fooks, aged 32, RAFVR of 180 Sqn RAF were both pilots of North American B-25 Mitchell Mark II bombers based at RCAF Dunsfold, Surrey.

Returning from a bombing mission attacking construction sites for V-1 ‘buzz bombs’ on 7th January 1944, their two aircraft collided and crashed close to the village of Rudgwick, West Sussex. All crew were killed. Six were buried in their home towns, while Riordan and Fooks were buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery.

We will remember them.

For the first time, in many years, the Brookwood Last Post’s Union Flag was paraded by Mrs Sue Stallard. This flag was commissioned in 1968 and is now 50 years old.

The Brookwood Last Post Standard was paraded by Alan Lopez and there were several other Standards on parade.

Afterwards we went round to The Trench Experience for refreshments.

March Last Post

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.

March Last Post

Afterwards we went round to The Trench Experience for mulled wine.

February Last Post

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.

January Last Post

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.

January Last Post

Afterwards we went round to the Trench Experience to try and warm up.

December Last Post

Today’s Last Post followed the short ceremony.

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.

November Last Post

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.

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.MarcNoble

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.