Generations unite in Bognor Regis for Remembrance Sunday

GENERATIONS united to remember those from Bognor Regis who died for freedom.

A 1,000-plus turnout from infants to veterans provided a fitting occasion for Remembrance Sunday in the centenary year of the first world war’s outbreak.

The wreaths laid during the Bognor Regis annual Remembrance Sunday service SUS-140911-133444001

The wreaths laid during the Bognor Regis annual Remembrance Sunday service SUS-140911-133444001

Among those present at the annual service was Isabelle Norris, five, who planted a poppy cross in memory of her great-great-great uncle.

Harry Parker Silverstone was killed on March 11, 1915, at the Battle of Neuchapel in France.

Aged 28, he was a private in the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters.

Isabelle said she had been learning about the remembrance event at Bishop Tufnell C of E Infant School last week.

“It’s good to remember people because they gave their lives for this country,” she said.

Her mother, Jody Martin, 32, of Binsted Avenue, Felpham, also took along her younger daughter, Savannah, three.

She said: “It’s the first time I’ve been with my daughters. It’s good that children remember what happened 100 years ago.

“I thought it was a good learning opportunity for them to come down and watch.”

She only found out about the family link with the war earlier this year and had Prv Silkstone’s name read out at the sea of poppies installation at the Tower of London recently.

The massive installation was said by Father Andrew Wadsworth, who led the civic service at the town hall war memorial, to show the scale of the slaughter in the great war.

“I’m sure that most of you have probably been to the Tower of London and have been profoundly moved by the size of those porcelain poppies.

“They remind us of the huge number of military dead - 888,000 - British and Commonwealth personnel who died in the great war.

“They fought for God, King and country and so freedom - not tyranny - would prevail.”

Fr Wadsworth, the vicar of St Wilfrid’s Church, also listed the fatalities Britain’s forces had suffered in the second world war and more recent conflicts.

“Those figures I have given to you, we must remember there are real people and real lives behind all of them,” he said.

Among the veterans present was David Kenward, 68, of Marine Park. He served in the RAF from 1966-79.

The former Sergeant said: “Today was a fitting occasion. it was nice to see so many youngsters. I thought of the comrades I used to be with.”

He was based at RAF Aldergrove in Belfast during the Troubles when the IRA blew up a nearby pub in which four British servicemen were killed.

“I didn’t go because I didn’t have any money,” he said. “That probably saved my life.”

Some 50 wreaths were laid at the memorial by a range of organisations in the town. They included councils, Guides, Scouts and armed forces cadets as well as service groups.

All were applauded as their long line marched through the crowd along Belmont Street after the service.

West Sussex Deputy Lord Lieutenant Roger Turner represented the Queen at the service with a wreath at the memorial.

He said afterwards: “The service seems to get better every year. It would be completely hollow if it was not for the people involved. There are more every year.”

Cllr Anthony Gardiner, Bognor’s town mayor, said: “Today was very moving. It shows people do remember. When we are gone, they will still be remembered.”

MP Nick Gibb said: “We are British and we grumble about things, the weather, taxes and each other.

“But, when we are faced with a crisis, we come together as a united kingdom.

“That’s what we have seen out there today. We have come together to remember. And, if we have a crisis in future, we will all come together with one aim - to preserve our freedom.”