Our extended ceremony today took place in glorious sunshine and we were extremely lucky to be joined by some excellent new cadets to the Army Training Centre, Pirbright as they toured the military cemetery with a CWGC guide.
At that point in the ceremony where we usually recall someone personal, today we remembered Flying Officer Robert Edward Mair, Bomber Command, son of WB and Amy Mair, who was lost over Germany on the night of 23rd November 1943, aged just 22. So young, so long ago, but not forgotten.
An excellent rendition of the Last Post and Reveille was sounded by Mrs Ruth Moore which resonated round the RAF Memorial and military cemetery.
Afterwards, we went round to The Trench Experience for some much needed refreshments.
Our ceremony today was a short version as we were missing some key people. It had an RAF theme.
Malcolm Head read a war poem entitled ‘To The RAF’ by Alfred Noyes.
We remembered Brookwood Resident John Frederick Painter, DFC:
John was born around 1918 and lived at 175 Connaught Road, then known as ‘Maryland’. His father was the coal merchant. He joined the Royal Air Force and he became a Flying Officer with No 102 Squadron of Bomber Command.
On 22nd October 1940 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations. This was probably given at the end of a tour of operations, perhaps the one when the squadron was loaned to Coastal Command. They spent six weeks in September – October 1940 carrying out convoy escort duties from Prestwick.
Soon after, however, on 7th November 1940, John’s plane was shot down and he was killed. He was just 22 years old. He is buried in Brookwood Cemetery in St. Matthew’s Avenue.
We will remember them.
Afterwards we had a short social session at The Trench Experience.
In conjunction with the Royal British Legion (Surrey branch), the BLP commemorated the Battle of Arras where more than 100,000 British soldiers were put out of action in the fighting at Arras between April and May 1917. Total losses for the Germans are unclear.
A good 20 people turned out today (including some random guests who were in the right place, at the right time) for the Last Post in the glorious sunshine.
Then afterwards for a cup of tea with The Trench Experience.
Our bugler was remembering her Great Uncle, Lance Corporal Alexander Stocker (250069), 3rd (City of London) Battalion Royal Fusiliers, who went into battle in Agny 100 years ago today and was killed the next day. He is buried in Archicourt Road Cemetery, Archicourt, Pas de Calais. He was 21 years old, married with a 3 year old daughter.
We will remember them.
Standard Bearer Mrs Sue Stallard
Standard Bearer Mrs Sue Stallard (L), Malcolm Head (M), Parade Master Tom Milne (R)