HUGE crowds turned out for 2017’s poignant Remembrance Sunday service in Bishop’s Stortford town centre, as respects were paid to the fallen heroes of the past and present.
It was a solemn but dignified occasion, with a lengthy parade marching movingly through the town. Young and old gathered together for a Remembrance service and took part in a poignant procession highlighting the first world War Centenary.
Police closed the roads to give way to an impressive parade of army and RAF members and young army and RAF Cadets of the 1096 (Bishop’s Stortford) Squadron. With civic leaders of the town council and dignitaries and the emergency services attending the memorial service.
A large crown gathered in the Link Car Park on the Causeway from 10.00 and began marching aided by a military band to the War Memorial in Castle Gardens at 10.30. The tuneful ensemble arrived at the War Memorial, where the Remembrance service was held and wreaths of poppies where laid to rest.
Members of the public found the whole event particularly moving and it sparked some strong emotions. Stephen Gutteridge a member of the Royal British Legion commented: ‘I always feel emotional, it is about Queen and country, I am very moved by it,’ he said.
John B Robinson, President of the Royal British Legion, Bishop’s Stortford Branch said: ‘It’s a massive turnout. There are crowds right down the causeway.’
The whole event had been organised by the Town Council in partnership with the Royal British Legion.
With 2017 being the Centenary anniversary of the penultimate year of the Great War, the Royal British Legion is taking part in several projects to highlight the horrors of war.
In particular the battle for Passchendaele or the third battle for Ypres which took place in the summer or 1917 and stands out as the embodiment of the futility of war. Children as young as 14 years old if not younger where already serving soldiers. So most of the young cadets marching on Remembrance Day in Bishop’s Stortford would have been fighting in the artillery a hundred years earlier.
During the battle the irrigation system on the land had been destroyed by constant bombardment and as it had rained virtually every day the whole area turned into a massive mud bath with lakes of water that men and animals disappeared into.
The Germans also used mustard gas and flame throwers and had strengthened their defences, the allies had only advanced five miles forward at the end of the battle. It was a victory but at a terrible price in human carnage.
The Royal British Legion supports both service men and veterans, and acts as a social network. Clive Kitchner, of the Bishop’s Stortford Branch said: ‘There had been a branch in the town since 1922. It was more of a social club,’ he commented.
‘I joined for the cheap beer,’ he joked. No. But seriously, its social aspect is important.
We share things with Age Concern and the Poppy appeal office. The centre has greatly expanded to help ex-service men. Which it was originally set up for, to provide help for them, their widows and families,’ he explained.
Over one thousand and five hundred men and women from Bishop’s Stortford were on active service in World War One.
Sources: Passchendaele – You Tube – Imperial War Museum 28 July 2017
‘Bishop’s Stortford in the First World War‘, by Clare, Downing and Turner