June Last Post

With the Falklands war coming to an end in June 1982, we focussed on key moments that happened in the month of June 40 years ago. We were also privileged to have visiting relatives of Private William James of the 13th Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

During the months of April, May and June we had heard poems written by Falklands veteran Tony McNally. The BLP invited Tony to attend the June ceremony and read out his own poem, but unfortunately he was unable to attend. We were extremely grateful for an audio recording of his poem ‘Bullet Proof Youth’ that he recorded specifically for us to to play at the ceremony and is reproduced here with kind permission. We thank you Tony for the powerful message and the personal insight you have given us over the previous three months of your experiences in the Falklands War through your poetry.

Bullet Proof Youth by Tony McNally:

We remembered Private Richard John de Mansfield Absolon of the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment. 19 year old Private Absolon was killed on the night of 11/12 June in the Battle of Mount Longdon. He was awarded the Military Medal.

17 year old Private William James was killed on the first day of the battle of Passchendaele, 31st July 1917. He is listed on the Menin Gate in Ypres on Panel 22.

Unusually, we heard a second poem during this ceremony entitled War, written by Private Ellis Evans, better known by his bardic name Hedd Wyn who often wrote poems in the Welsh-language. Co-incidentally, he too was killed on the 1st day of the Battle of Passchendaele.

The Last Post was sounded by a student from Gordon’s School and we are grateful for her participation.

The BLP Standard was carried by Alan Lopez, with the Union Flag carried by Tom Milne.

During the ceremony, it was announced that BLP Member Dagmar Sizer had passed away since the May ceremony. Dagmar was often seen manning the refreshments wagon at The Trench Experience. The BLP sends its condolences to her husband Eddie Jones and family.

May Last Post

We continued our Falklands theme, hearing a brief history of key events from the war during the month of May 1982, particularly the loss of several ships and consequent loss of life.

We welcomed representatives of the Woking Royal Naval Association with their Standard on parade.

Our poem was again by Falklands veteran Tony McNally entitled Screaming in Silence. Words used here with permisison:

I’m screaming in silence its deafening me
You cannot hear me yet your talking to me
I see your lips moving and the blink of your eyes
Its just a blur and a buzzing like a corpse full of flies
In this bubble of pain I cannot escape
Your smiling at me now my smile back a fake
I want to run but I’m glued to my seat
Sweating and shaking and tapping my feet
A pain in  my chest and my mouth bone dry
I grin and I nod but I just want to cry
Pull yourself together I hear some say
But I’m stuck in 1982 on a cold sunny day
I’m no longer a soldier but my mind disagrees
It keeps sending me back to those terrible seas
You finish your talk and then smile and leave
Leave me  back in my bubble with the dead that I grieve.

We remembered three individuals from the war and a French national from the second world was buried in Brookwood Cemetery.

Our first Individual Remembrance was Royal Engineer Staff Sergeant James Prescott. HMS Antelope was attacked by Argentine aircraft and several bombs hit the ship but not all went off. The ship limped close to shore where bomb defusal experts attempted to diffuse the two bombs that failed to explode. It was during this that one of the bombs exploded, killing Staff Sergeant Prescott. He was 37 years old.

Our second Individual Remembrance was Air Engineering Mechanic (Radio) 1 Adrian John Anslow of the Royal Navy. AEM Anslow was in board the Atlantic Conveyer when it was hit by an Exocet missile on 25th May. He was 20 years old.

Our third Individual Remembrance was Able Seaman (Sonar) Derek K Armstrong of the Royal Navy. HMS Ardent was bombed by a number of Skyhawks 21st May and AS Armstrong was among 22 killed that day. He was 22 years old.

French national Sergeant Marc Lemouser of the Free French Air Force was serving with 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit RAF when he was killed along with three crewmates when their Halifax bomber suffered an engine fire and crashed in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales. Initially buried in Haverfordwest, three of the crew repatriated to France, and Sgt Lemouser was reburied in the French Plot. Brookwood Military Cemetery.

We had five Standards on parade. The Union Flag was carried by our Senior Standard Bearer Tom Milne, the Brookwood Last Post Standard was carried by Neil Teague. Eddie Jones carried the French Tricolour, Keith Tarling carried the Woking Royal Naval Association Standard and Norman Holden paraded the Royal British Legion Bisley, Knaphill and West End Branch Standard.

At the end of the ceremony, the Standards were inspected by the military historian, David Stewart.

The Last Post was sounded by Mrs Ruth Moore and our Parade Marshal was Ian Cartwright.

Thanks to Alan Meeks for the photographs.

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.

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.