Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Remembrance Sunday - 11th November 2012

St Michael's Cornhill
Always an emotional day, growing up with a soldier as a father, we were often on parade, so to speak. He survived his wars, but sadly is no longer with us. My handsome son is working toward becoming an officer, so I feel it will always be an emotive time for me.

It is good that we DO remember, even if it is only for a couple of minutes once a year, it makes us focus on those who gave their lives for us to be free so, so long ago. Also to remember with pride the young men and women who are in the forces today, whatever you may feel about the act of war itself.

Arrived breathless at the Royal Exchange, everything seemed to have gone in slow motion since I got on public transport. My fellow guides wondered where the Lord Mayor was and I told them I had seen his Rolls Royce at St Paul's.  It transpired if we had gone on with the rest of the group to lay wreaths at the other memorials and returned an hour later, we would have been present when the Lord Mayor laid his wreath on the Royal Exchange Memorial.
Never mind, we'll be more aware next year.

Memorial at Royal Exchange

The memorial honours the London men who died in World War I. Designed by Aston Webb RA and sculpted by Alfred Drury, it's stone column flanked by two life sized bronze soldiers. On top is a lion and a shield showing St George and the Dragon. A fine and worthy monument and pass and admire it often.

WWI Cross St Botolph's
This simple memorial cross at St Botolph's may have been one of the first created, 4th August 1916, the war not yet over. Four alternating faces of the octagonal plinth, reading clockwise from the south facet tell us:

Officers and men of the Honourable Artillery Company, in memory of our brave dead of Bishopgate, 1914-1916 then,
John Travers Cornwell VC of HMS Chester, (16 years of age) and Kitchener, June 5, 1916, Lest we forget.

The story of 'boy Cornwell' is poignant indeed, such a brave soul at only 16 years of age. His story is extraordinary and can be found here.

On 31 Jauary 1922, the original Lloyd's War Memorial arch (Sir Edwin Cooper) was unveiled at the entrance to Lloyd's Rooms at the Royal Exchange, commemorated all those who had been lost in the Great War. When Lloyd's moved to Leadenhall Street, the arch went with, and remained there until the site was demolished in 1979 to make way for the present Lime Street building. The arch went into storage.  What we see today is the carefully restored arch that is now a memorial to those who lost their lives in both the First and Second World War. Unveilded and dedicated in July 2008.

A portion of the Lloyd's War Memorial and Arch
A single poppy nestles in the stone wreath.

Our stroll continued to the WWI Monument at Liverpool Station. Again a monument that has been moved. Sadly a lift has been incorporated in the design which rather spoils it. There are two further memorials, one to a merchant sea captain who rammed a German U boat and was captured and executed (Fryatt) and Sir Henry Wilson who was assassinated only hours after unveiling the memorial by the IRA.

We ended at the Kindertransport statue, a memorial to those children who fled Nazi-controlled Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia between 1938 and 1939. Sculpted by Frank Meisler the same monument stands at Gdansk Glowny railway station in Poland. A Special Reunion is planned to commemorate the 75th annivesary of the Kindertransport on Sunday 23 June 2013 at JFS in North West London.

On my way back to Cheapside I passed St Botolph's again and noticed at the entrance two Remembrance wreaths wrapped in plastic, with a card attached from the British Legion. Why were they lying there after 1pm in the afternoon?  I picked them up and went inside the church, a service was in progress. So there was only one thing left to do. I went to the WWI memorial unwrapped the two wreaths and laid them there.  Not forgotten after all,  prior to my actions nothing had been left, except my own poppy from my collar. RIP.

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