The Fleet Air Arm march past 2014, Cloud Observers are propping up the Aircrew Association. Members also marched as part of the Field Gun Crew Association, The FAA Officers Association and of course The Association of Wrens.
The Fleet Air Arm memorial in London is situated on the Embankment behind the MOD building approximately 200 yards from the Tattershall Castle Floating Pub
On completion of the marchpast on Remembrance Sunday, the FAA contingent which includes Cloudobservers gather at the memorial for a short service. This consists of an introduction by the
FNF Chairman (Radm Chris Clayton), the laying of Wreaths and ends with a song from the FAA Field Gun Crew. The service lasts between 5 and 10 minutes
before we retire to the Tattershall Castle for appropriate refreshments. All ex FAA, RN and their families, you do not have to be marchers, are most welcome to join in or observe this brief but touching service. See you there.
For anyone wishing to march in London in 2017 will need to contact the secretary in good time. Due to increased security you now need to apply for and obtain a personal ticket.
Tower of London Poppies
Several members took the opportunity to visit the extremely popular and unique Poppy Display at the Tower of London this year. A few images with more to follow plus other Poppy related images. Theses two stunning images were taken by a very patient Mairi Squibb, just take a look at the crowds in the background!w Mairi also collected images from the rest of us and even her son to put together a Powerpoint Show called Blood Swept Lands.
Title (Download Total)
|Cloud Observers Tribute 2015 (991)||pdf document|
|Blood Swept Lands (453)||pdf document|
|The Early Pioneers (1723)||powerpoint|
|D-Day 70 (756)||pdf document|
|The Cenotaph (729)||pdf document|
|Battle of Britain RN Pilots (Tribute) (1837)||powerpoint|
|Battle of Britain RN Pilots (Tribute) (4123)||pdf document|
|Fleet Air Arm Memorial Church (2021)||powerpoint|
|Fleet Air Arm Memorial Church (1957)||pdf document|
|National Memorial Arboretum (824)||powerpoint|
|National Memorial Arboretum (1204)||pdf document|
|Battle of The Atlantic (842)||pdf document|
Cloud Observers Remember
John (Bungy) Williams, Bude November 2013.
The Cenotaph and Two Minutes Silence
Erected to honour a person or group of people, a cenotaph is a monument to those whose remains are buried elsewhere. The word cenotaph is derived from the Greek and means empty tomb. Arguably, the most famous today is probably the one in Whitehall which come to prominence every November for the annual tribute to the many men and women who have fallen in major conflicts around the world.
The original monument was designed by Edwin Lutyens and constructed from wood and plaster; one of what was intended to be temporary structures erected along the route of the parade for the London Victory or Peace Day Parade to be held on 19 July 1919, marking the formal end of World War One. Given just two weeks to design, construct and erect these monuments, Lutyens settled on a pylon rising in a series of set blocks to the empty tomb, or cenotaph at the top. The original wreaths at either side and on top were made from laurel and the location on the parade route was along Whitehall between the Foreign Office and Richmond House, as it still is today. This was unveiled very quietly the day before the Victory Parade and for some time after the parade the base of the memorial remained covered with flowers and wreaths laid by members of the public in the day following the main ceremony.
All this signalled to the British War Cabinet that this monument should be retained and by the end of July 1919 they had decided that a permanent memorial should replace the temporary structure. This was to be designated Britain’s official national war memorial and was to be an exact replica of the temporary structure, but, this time constructed from Portland Stone. Lutyens’ original idea for the Cenotaph emanated from the garden seat he designed in Gertrude Jeklyll’s garden at Munstead Wood in the 1890’s which acquired the name “Cenotaph of Sigismunda”, as suggested by a friend, Charles Liddell.
Constructed by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts between 1919 and 1920, the Cenotaph was undecorated apart from the three carved wreaths replacing the original laurel. Under the two side wreaths, the words “The Glorious Dead”, chosen by Rudyard Kipling are inscribed whilst above are the dates of the First World War in Roman numerals (MCMXIV-MCMXIX). The memorial was unveiled on 11 November 1920 by King George V, but never dedicated as many of those commemorated were not Christian. The whole ceremony was just part of a much larger parade where the Unknown Warrior passed the Cenotaph before being laid to rest in Westminster Abbey. Once the gun-carriage had passed the King unveiled the new monument which was draped in large Union Flags. Although Lutyens had wanted the various flags to be carved in stone he was overruled and cloth flags were used. These have changed over the years, but, from 2007 alongside the Union Flag are flags representing the Royal Navy, the British Army, the Royal Air Force and the Merchant Navy, along with the Blue Ensign representing the RNR, RFA’s and other government services. The flags are cleaned periodically and changed after two cleanings. The discarded flags are sent to the Imperial War Museum.
Originally designed to commemorate the British Empire dead of World War One the Cenotaph was extended to include those who died in World War Two by the addition, on the flag sides, of the dates in Roman numerals (MCMXXXIX-MCMXLV). King George VI unveiled the memorial for a second time on 10 November 1946; the monument is now also used to remember the date of later wars involving British servicemen and servicewomen. It was on 5 February 1970 that the Cenotaph was designated a Grade1 listed building.
Armistice or Remembrance Day was dedicated specifically as the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month by King George V on 7 November 1919 to observe the exact time of the ceasing of hostilities the previous year. The initial Armistice Day was held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace on the morning of 11 November 1919 with the King laying the first wreath. At the same time many thousands also gathered at the temporary Cenotaph in Whitehall. On 7 November that same year the King had also proclaimed that there be a two minute silence everywhere at 11 am when all normal activities should be suspended ensuring perfect stillness. This allowed all to concentrate their thoughts on reverentremembrance of “The Glorious Dead”.
- University of Huddersfield
- Nottingham Journal circa 1930
The Unknown Warrior and His Tomb
Buried in Westminster Abbey, the Unknown Warrior is a memorial to all the dead of World War One; in particular those who have no known grave. It was as early as 1916 that the Reverend David Railton, serving as a chaplain at the front, began to consider honouring the unidentified dead of the war. In a garden in Armentieres he noticed a grave with a rough cross which bore the words “An Unknown British Soldier”. After the war, in 1920, the Rev Railton suggested that Britain honoured the unknown dead of the Great War officially.
Using the main British battle areas in France four to six bodies were exhumed, covered with a Union Flag and left overnight in a St Pol chapel. Brigadier L J Wyatt, commander of the British troops selected a body which was placed in a coffin of oak from Hampton Court, a mediaeval crusaders sword attached to the lid surmounted by an iron plaque bearing the inscription ‘A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914-1918 for King and Country’, before being transported to Dover on the destroyer HMS Verdun. The other bodies were reburied.
Arriving in Dover on 10 November 1920, the coffin was transported by train to Victoria station where it remained overnight. Between platforms 8 and 9 is a plaque to commemorate the overnight resting place and a short service is held there every 10 November. The following morning, on the second anniversary of Armistice Day the Unknown Warrior was drawn on a gun carriage through the streets of London to the Cenotaph where King George V placed a wreath on the coffin. The Two Minute Silence was observed at 1100 before the cortege, along with the King, members of the Royal Family and Ministers of State processed to Westminster Abbey. The body was buried at the west end of the nave, flanked by a guard of honour of one hundred recipients of the Victoria Cross. The interment was also attended by approximately one hundred women chosen because they had all lost their husbands and all sons in the war.
The coffin was interred in soil brought from the main battlefields and the grave topped with a slab of back Belgian marble. It is the only part of the Abbey floor that is never walked on. Composed by Herbert Ryle, Dean of Westminster is the following inscription; engraved using brass melted down from wartime ammunition.
BENEATH THIS STONE RESTS THE BODY
OF A BRITISH WARRIOR
UNKNOWN BY NAME OR RANK
BROUGHT FROM FRANCE TO LIE AMONG
THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS OF THE LAND
AND BURIED HERE ON ARMISTICE DAY
11 NOV: 1920, IN THE PRESENCE OF
HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V
HIS MINISTERS OF STATE
THE CHIEFS OF HIS FORCES
AND A VAST CONCOURSE OF THE NATION
THUS ARE COMMEMORATED THE MANY
MULTITUDES WHO DURING THE GREAT
WAR OF 1914-1918 GAVE THE MOST THAT
MAN CAN GIVE LIFE ITSELF
FOR KING AND COUNTRY
FOR LOVED ONES HOME AND EMPIRE
FOR THE SACRED CAUSE OF JUSTICE AND
FREEDOM OF THE WORLD
THEY BURIED HIM AMONG THE KINGS BECAUSE HE
HAD DONE GOOD TOWARD GOD AND TOWARD
When Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother married King George VI in 1923 she laid her wedding bouquet on the tomb as a tribute to her brother, Fergus, killed in battle in 1915. This tradition has been carried on by all Royal brides who have married in the Abbey, although now the bouquet is laid on the tomb the day after the wedding. At the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, Queen Elizabeth II laid her mother’s wreath on the tomb the day after her funeral as had been her mother’s express wishes.
References – Wikipedia
Kohima Epitaph and Remembrance
When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.
This is engraved on a War Memorial in Burma, commemorating those who died in the Battle of Kohima in 1944 and was adapted by Major John Etty-Leal from the original;
When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrows, these gave their today.
This is one of four epitaphs written as suggested inscriptions for War Memorials by John Maxwell Edmonds in 1919 and published in The Times.
This seems very apt to me when we know that there must have been some RN Meteorologists who gave their lives for their country during World War Two, but, we have no idea who they were. Consulting the original lists of war dead has revealed many sailors who did not come back, but all are recorded as Naval Airmen with no reference to their branch specialism. I will keep looking in the hope that something will come to light. Meanwhile if any of our members have any knowledge please contact me.
It is that time of year when we would ask our members to reflect on those unknown members of the branch who are no longer with us, along with those we have recorded in Departed Shipmates. We do have one member of the branch recorded for posterity on the wall of the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Robert (Red) Skelton was sadly killed in a helicopter crash at RNAS Brawdy in 1963. He served in the Met Branch and then as aircrew from 1954-1963.
These people really did give their today for our tomorrow.
William Bastian and World War Two
Following on from the article about the Kohima Epitaph has come information on a member of the Met Branch who was killed during WW2. This information was supplied by Dave Hadland, an ex member of the branch who happened to spot William Bastian tucked away right at the top of the Lee-on-Solent War Memorial; originally erected to list all those members of the FAA who were killed during WW2 and have no known grave. Although at this time members of the Met Branch were known as seamen (met) – the branch did not become part of the FAA until after the war – they worked ashore at air stations and at sea on carriers and other ships that carried planes and as such were, quite rightly, honoured with the Fleet Air Arm.
Able Seaman (Met) William Briant Bastion was recorded as missing, presumed Killed when U155 torpedoed HMS Avenger, an escort carrier, on 15 November 1942; he was 32 years of age. Little else is known about him or whether there were any more seamen (met) aboard HMS Avenger with him, possibly not as the complement on board ships early in the war was generally for one Seaman Q(Met) or one Seaman (Met) by 1942. (See Lee-on-Solent in the Met Schools section for further details).
A little more digging after Dave had come forward with the initial information revealed enough information to give the above detail and thanks to Peter Claridge, his bike and a step ladder we now have photographs of the FAA Memorial at Lee-on-Solent showing the inscription for William Bastion. It is fairly safe to assume that William was not the only member of the branch to give his life, but, unfortunately to date there is no record of these men due to the only branch description being recorded is seaman without reference to the sub-branch. This does not mean that the story is over, we will continue to follow leads as and when they arise in the hopes that eventually more names will turn up and be confirmed. If anyone knows of other entries on War Memorials or in Books of Remembrance please let the secretary know; other details may enable further articles on newly discovered members of the branch.