Over recent days, Labour Councillors have attended a range of memorial services to pay our respects and mark Armistice Day and Remembrance Day. Labour’s equalities lead and Armed Forces Champion, Cllr Amanda Grimshaw BEM, gives her reflections on a special week of Remembrance:
It has been a very busy week, starting on the 9 November at Hove Cemetery to lay crosses on the Commonwealth War Graves.
The war dead in the cemetery at Hove, are in two separate locations and expand over at least two centuries. Some of the men in WW1 graves I feel I know well as I have researched their lives and know what they did and what they looked like and how they died. Others in the most modern section were very poignant and heart wrenching as some were known personally to my family members.
The most recent deaths in the recent part are mostly post-WW1 total 39 in number with 30 being under 30 and as you walk along the rows the age 22 leaps out over and over again. The youngest being 17. There is a grave of a young woman Cpl Freda V.I. Webb of the Aux Territorial Service she died aged 22 on the 2nd April 1943 and I have been unable to find any information about her life and death.
On Thursday the 10th November I attended Blessing at the Garden of Remembrance, and on Friday the 11th November I attended the Armistice Day commemoration at the war memorial at the Old Steine.
Whenever I visit the war memorial I am reminded of the vast crowds who attended commemorations in the 1920s and 1930s. For them the Act of Remembrance was very personal – for many the names on the memorial were their fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and cousins and friends.
On the Friday a man sought me out clutching a small white envelope. In this envelope was a photo of his relative named on the war memorial. It also contained a notification of his death card.
The soldier was Lance-Corporal Albert Sambucci of the 13th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment who was killed in action in France in 1916.
His person marked on the photo with an x, another reminder of the personal links residents of our city feel when they pay their respects at Commemorations.
After WW1 and the huge losses suffered, Remembrance took on a huge significance in the national consciousness as it was very personal with hardly anybody not impacted by the devastating losses.
Even from those early days of Civic and National Remembrance protocols were in place to ensure that Commemoration services had an order. For example, the wreath laying still has strict guidance set out by the Royal British Legion. As I was one of the Wreath Marshals for the 2nd year running my time was spent on Sunday morning at the main ceremony clutching my clip board, meeting and greeting people attending with wreaths. This involved checking them off and making sure that they lined up in accordance with the strict protocol that has to be adhered to.
Whilst I was doing this, I noticed an elderly lady clutching a very small, simple posey. She told me she had come to lay it in Remembrance of her Great Uncle, at one point she said it was her grandfather so I’m not totally sure which it was. I looked at my list knowing before I did so that she would not be on it as she was not representing an organisation or a service.
So, she waited patiently until the service ended, and then the call came for others who wished to lay wreaths to do so.
This for me was the most moving part of the day, as she walked past the memorial, she stopped to point out her relative’s name engraved on the war memorial and proudly pointed him out.
I took great pride in being part of the service and being able to assist to ensure that the commemoration went smoothly and in its traditional designed way – but for me the act of Remembrance by a family member with that personal connection to a name of the fallen on the memorial always touches my heart and reminds that Remembrance is about real people who gave their lives in conflict.
Cllr Amanda Grimshaw BEM