Vicar’s letter – The story of the unknown warrior
The Rev David Railton, a chaplain at the front, is believed to have had the idea of honouring the unidentified dead of the Great War. In 1916 he noticed a grave in a garden in Armentieres which had a rough cross bearing the words ‘An Unknown British Soldier’. After the War in 1920 he suggested that Britian honour its unknown war dead officially. Between four and six bodies were exhumed from four battle areas: the Aisne, the Somme, Arras and Ypres. The remains were covered with Union Jack flags and brought to the chapel at St Pol. Brigadier General LJ Wyatt, who was the commander of British troops in France, then selected one. The officers placed the body in a plain coffin and sealed it. The other bodies were taken away for reburial. Placed in a coffin made of oak from Hampton Court, the body was transported to Dover on the destroyer HMS Verdun. On the morning of November 11 1920, the ssecond anniversary of Armistice Day, the Unknown Warrior was drawn through the crowd-lined streets on a gun carriage in a procession to the Cenotaph where George V placed a wreath on the coffin. At 11 am the nation observed the two minutes silence and then the body was taken to Westminster Abbey and buried in the west end of the nave. The grave contains soil from France and is covered by a slab of black Belgian marble. Inscribed upon the marble are these words from the Bible: ‘They buried him among the Kings because he had done good toward God and toward his house’ (2 Chronicles 24:16). Within the first week an estimated 1,250, 000 people filed past the Unknown Warrior to pay their respects to all the unidentified war dead. It is now the only part of the Abbey floor that is never walked on. In this special 100th anniversary year do come and remember all who made a the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy in this country.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow. Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it hig. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields
Austwick Harvest Auction
Many thanks to all who attended the recent Harvest Supper and Auction of Produce. We raised over £470 which has been divided between Manorlands Hospice and Age UK North Craven.