Yesterday, our September ceremony was held in conjunction with members of the Royal British Legion. The Carshalton, Wallington and District Branch were dedicating a new Standard and we were very privileged to witness the march off of the old Standard, and the march in of the new Standard.
Marching off of the old Standard
March in of the new Standard
We remembered Woking resident John Parton Gabriel. In September 1939 John was selected for special training due to his influential friends in the Balkans, his fluent French and German and working knowledge of Russian. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lt and served as an Intelligence Officer with GCHQ in France.
On 7th June 1940, he married Clothilde Catherine Ward, whose mother was of German descent. Shortly afterwards, John was informed that his services would no longer be required in intelligence because of the perceived security risk. He was posted to the Royal Berkshire Regiment for a brief period until the ban was lifted some six months later. He re-joined the Intelligence Corps with the rank of acting Captain.
After serving for a period in Cairo, he was actually travelling incognito on an armed merchant ship in convoy, along with three other intelligence officers. The ship was torpedoed but John and his colleagues were rescued by another vessel, only for it to be torpedoed some hours later. This time he did not escape and was declared lost at sea on 24th February 1941.
At the end of the ceremony and after the dedication of the new Standard, Mr David Plattern, Chairman of Surrey County Royal British Legion and Brookwood Last Post Chairman, Malcolm Head inspected the Standards.
The Last Post and Reveille were sounded by Mrs Ruth Moore.
Afterwards, we went round to The Trench Experience for some refreshments and to listen to some tunes by Keith.
Today we commemorated the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele).
There were approximately 30 people in attendance, including a small contingent from 1st Knaphill Scout Group and Councillor John Kingsbury. Mrs Ruth Moore sounded the Last Post.
We remembered our Chairman’s uncle, Reginald Percy Head. Born in 1897, he was one of seven children (5 boys, 2 girls) born to Harry and Alice Head. Reg joined the Army early in 1915 and enlisted in the Machine Gun Corps.
He saw action on a number of occasions and was gassed at Passchendaele on 11th October 1917. Transferred to a succession of field hospitals, he eventually found himself in an Anglo-American Military hospital in Trier, Germany, after the end of hostilities.
He was medically discharged in 1919 and died of the effects of the gas in 1925 aged 28.
Afterwards we went round to the Trench Experience for a chat and an opportunity to learn some parade basics from Bob, who had come along in WWI battle dress.
1st Knaphill Scout Group
Afterwards at the Trench Experience
Bob (in WWI Dress) and Eddy Jones playing with deactivated rifles.
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)