Every year we as a nation unite to remember those who have fallen fighting for our country. This year celebrations will be a little different due to Covid. The annual Remembrance Sunday March past at the Cenotaph, where up to 10,000 War Veterans take part in London did not take place this year. The ceremony was still broadcast live on BBC1 at 10:15am. The closed ceremony was attended by the likes of The Prime Minister and Members of The Royal Family. Attendees laid Poppy wreaths at the Cenotaph. Armistice Day 2020 will take place on Wednesday 11th November. On November 11th 1918 the armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany. This stated an end to any conflict and an end to the war. This was signed at 11am, “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” In many of the Allied nations, and France, this is a national holiday. All over the world people stop to observe a two minutes silence at 11am on the 11th of November. Poppies are worn as a symbol of respect and a tribute to those who fell during the Wars. Socially distanced ceremonies took place on Sunday on a much smaller scale due to Covid. The local councils advised much smaller outdoor ceremonies. We are advised to keep numbers down to those wishing to lay wreaths. Buglers are able to perform outdoors. Any communal singing must be outdoors and is limited to the national anthem and one additional song.
Remembrance Sunday, will be held on Sunday 10th November. The National Service of remembrance will be held at the Cenotaph at Whitehall in London at 11am. The service honours the service and sacrifices of the Armed Forces who fought in the two World Wars and any other conflicts. This yearly remembrance ensures no one is forgotten and honours those who sacrificed themselves to protect our freedom. Every year up to 10,000 veterans, current serving Armed Forces personnel and bereaved spouses and first generation descendants take part in the March Past. From 9am on the 10th November the Royal British Legion detachments form up on Horse Guards Parade. At 10am the March Past begins then at 11am there is a two minute silence in which the whole country falls silent to remember those who gave their lives. The beginning and the end of the silence is marked at 11.00 and 11.02 by the firing of guns by the Kings Troop at Horse Guards Parade The 11th November marks Armistice Day. This year will mark 101 years since the end of the First World War. On November 11th 1918 the armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany. This stated an end to any conflict and an end to the war. This was signed at 11am, “on the eleventh house of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” In many of the Allied nations, and France, this is a national holiday. Remembrance does not glorify war. Its symbol, the red poppy, is a sign of remembrance and the hope for a peaceful future. The poppy is greatly appreciated by those who it is intended to support and shows your respect. This well-established symbol is one that carries a wealth of history and meaning. During WW1, much of the countryside on the front in Western Europe was repeatedly bombarded by artillery shells. This turned the landscapes into bleak and barren scenes where nothing could grow, apart from the poppy flower. The Flanders poppy flourished in the middle of all the destruction, growing into tens of thousands. Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, saw the poppies which gave him his inspiration to write the famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. This poem led America academic, Moina Michael to adopt the poppy into the memory of those who had fallen in the war. Anna Guerin, in 1921, sold the poppies in the UK where she met Earl Haigh , the founder of the Royal British Legion. He was persuaded to adopt the poppy as the emblem for the Legion in the UK and so in 1921 they ordered nine million poppies and sold them that year. They raised £106,000 to help the veterans which became the first ‘Poppy Appeal’. In today’s Poppy Appeal, 40,000 volunteers distribute 40 million poppies. Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day offer us all a chance to remember not just those who fought, but what they fought for. Today in the UK, remembrance is very different to how it was 100 [...]
Roger Bennett, a police diver from the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Marine Unit, was searching for a murder weapon at the bottom of the River Loxley just to the North of Sheffield. During his dive he found what he first thought was an old coin, but when Mr Bennett resurfaced, realised he had actually found a medal. And with help from Clifton Park Museum in Rotherham determined that the medal belonged to Lance Corporal Stephen Smith the York and Lancaster Regiment. The young soldier fought in Gallipoli in Turkey on 2 July 1915 and died from wounds he received at Suvla bay on 9 August 2015. “I initially thought it was a coin, but as soon as I realised that it was medal I was amazed. We quickly made the decision to attempt to reunite the medal with Stephen’s family. Our research started within hours of us finding it. We put a couple of photos on social media and the rest is history…” The family of Lance Corporal Smith got in touch after seeing pictures of the newly polished medal on Twitter and Roger added that: “We were thrilled to track down Stephen’s family and it was fantastic to learn more about his story, despite it being such a sad ending. I’m so pleased that we have been able to reunite them with such a precious and important part of their family history” Lance Corporal Smith’s family agreed to donate the medal to the Clifton Park after a genealogical search traced 22 living family members with some living as far away as Canada.Reverend Julian Cliff, who was Lance Corporal Smith’s great nephew, never knew his grandmother had any other family and the 22 family members met for the first time at the museum more than a century after Lance Corporal Smith’s death. Julian told the South Yorkshire Police “At first I thought it was a hoax, but once things started to fall in to place I was so grateful that Roger and the team had decided to find us. They went beyond the call of duty and they have brought a family together - most of us have never met before today.”
Dalton Barton & Co was a textile manufacturing company founded near Coventry on the 16th of January 1852. The name Dalton and Barton corresponded with that of its two founding weavers: Robert Arnold Dalton and George Samuel Barton. Robert Dalton was born in 1825, the son of a plumber and glazier, but at the age of 14 he started a 7-year apprenticeship with William and John Sargent, who were ribbon makers in Coventry. In 1847 he became a ribbon manufacturer. Later in life he was elected an alderman and mayor of the city. Little is known of George Barton, only that he was a year younger than Robert Dalton. It wasn’t until 29th May 1872 that the company became a limited company. Dalton Barton & Co Ltd had an incorporated number of 6313, meaning that there were only 6312 incorporated companies before it so it was one of the first few. The company flourished and extended its range from ribbon making to narrow fabrics, braids, upholstery trimmings, uniform regalia and lanyards. The Company had a huge boost when it received the contract to produce Australian moquette tape used in railway carriages. Both the Coventry factory and its London marketing company continued to prosper and they became one of the largest haberdashery wholesalers in the world. In 1940 during WWII disaster struck when an air raid destroyed the whole Coventry factory. By this time the factory had focused all of its efforts on military narrow fabrics such a chevron lace, medal ribbon and parachute harnesses etc. This meant it was able to obtain Government funding to build a new factory on Mason Road, Coventry. As the war progressed, sourcing the pure silk for the weaving of medal ribbons became increasingly difficult. Nylon was suggested as an alternative - at the time it was a newly-developed material. King George VI refused stating that his award medals were for superior acts of gallantry which would be manufactured from only the finest materials. David Wright, father of Robin Wright, the present owner, joined the company in 1959. He had no experience of narrow fabrics but was skilled in textile manufacturing management and design. He joined the company and moved the factory near the river Wye in Gloucester, which is close to the Forest of Dean. David then renamed the company Wyedean Weaving. In 1964 a severance was proposed by Dalton Barton and its subsidiary Wyedean Weaving. David Wright struck a deal to transfer all of the haberdashery production looms, in exchange for him being allowed to purchase the military production machinery. Wyedean Weaving was relocated to Haworth, West Yorkshire where David grew up and focused its energies on uniform accoutrement such as sergeant sashes, chevrons, RAF rank braid and naval collar tape which was mainly sold to customers such as the Ministry of Defence. To view our range of narrow fabrics click here.
The Bradford Pals were the 16th and 18th Battalions of the West Yorkshire Regiment. The Pals regiments were units of men who lived, worked and socialised together. They then all signed up together. These units were raised early in the war as it was clear that Britain’s professional army was too small. The recruitment for the men started on 8th September and they were encouraged to join the army sacrificing their personal needs for the service of their country. The men were trained at the Manningham Lane Skating Rink and by the 26th of September a full Battalion of 1,069 was formed. These were to be the 16th (service) Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (1st Bradford). The 2nd Bradford or 18th (service) Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment was sanctioned on January 22nd 1915. By this time more advertising was needed as the initial patriotism had worn off. A new scheme was started in April 1915 with money rewards given to soldiers who brought in new recruits. The regiment jointed the first Pals Battalion in Ripon on the 20th May. The 1st and 2nd Braford Pals were a regiment of about 2,000 men who, during the First World War, suffered 1,770 casualties in the first hour as they attacked the village of Serre.
International Women’s Day started in 1910 when Clara Zetkin (a famous German advocate for Women’s rights) suggested the day become an international day of celebration. America already celebrated a National Women’s Day in 1908 after 15,000 women marched through New York City in demanding the right to vote and better pay and this sowed the seeds for what later became International Women’s day. Every year on the 8th of March women celebrate how far women have come in society, politics and economics. In countries like Russia, the day is a national holiday, where the sales of flowers double. Women currently make up about 10% of British Army personnel. They are, for the first time ever, working alongside their male counterparts in such roles as engineers, mechanics, lawyers and educators. Today, International Women’s Day, celebrates the achievements of women all over the world. The British Army now seeks to promote equality throughout all ranks and trades. Although women have served alongside men on the battlefields as dog handlers, medics and carrying weapons, they were not allowed to take part in roles of close combat until 2016. There are many success stories throughout the British Military. Lieutenant Commander West became the first women to be given Command of one of the Navy’s major warships. In September 2016 WO1 Esther Freeborn became the first female bandmaster for the Household Cavalry, and Lieutenant Catherine Ker was the first female to qualify as a Royal Navy Mine Clearance Officer. This year an International Women’s Day Campaign has taken on the theme of #BeBoldForChange and there are women going on strike in more than 30 countries.
The Royal Tank Regiment or RTR is the oldest tank regiment in the world. The RTR was formed as early as 1916 during the Great War by the British Army. Originally formed from the Machine Gun Corps, the pioneers of armoured warfare became the Tank Corps, who formed 8 battalions by the start of 1919. During the Second World War, the RTR, had 25 battalions fighting all over the world. Currently the regiment is based at Tidworth and is equipped with Challenger 2 tanks. Their official uniform is unique to the rest of the Royal Armoured Corps; instead of the standard-issue blue beret, the RTR wear a black one. Their uniform of black coveralls is also reserved especially for the Regiment. Soldiers in the RTR also wear a cap badge which shows an image of an early Royal Tank Regiment tank. Their motto is ‘Fear Naught’. During the First World War, walking sticks were often used by officers to probe the ground in front of their tanks to test the firmness. Often, the commanders led their tanks into action on foot. More recently to commemorate this, officers of the Regiment carry ash plant sticks instead of the short cane customary to other arms.
Soldier Wearing Poppy and Afghanistan MedalBritain will fall silent for two minutes to remember the end of the First World War on Friday the 11th of November. This tradition of holding a silence was started by King George V to ensure that the ‘thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.’ This day is called Armistice Day, Remembrance Day or sometimes more informally Poppy Day. From 2014 to 2018 this day has an added significance from the fact that this period marks the centenary of the First World War. From 1919 until 1945, Armistice Day was always on the 11th of November. In 1946 it was moved to Remembrance Sunday. Since the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in 1995 it became usual to have ceremonies on both days. In 2006 Veterans Day was also created to help celebrate the achievements of the veterans. Today this is named Armed Forces Day and held annually. This year Remembrance Sunday falls on the Sunday nearest the 11th of November, which is the 13th. Every year memorial services and two minute silences are held at 11am all over the country at cenotaphs and churches. It is a time to remember the dead from all wars, not just WWI. During the war when the soil was churned up by endless fighting, poppies still managed to flourish leading the red poppy becoming a symbol of remembrance for the First World War. The poppy is also seen as a symbol to honour the millions of current servicemen and women who fight in our Armed Forces. John McCrae recognises the poppy in the Poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. In Flanders Fields, John McCrae (1872-1918) 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 high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. The Cenotaph Whitehall, London Following the Remembrance Day Parade in 2010 The first wreath is laid by the Queen on behalf of the nation and before other senior members of the Royal Family, including the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and Prince Harry follow suit. Wreaths are then laid by the Prime Minister and leaders of major political parties, and lastly, by representatives from the Armed Forces: Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and the Army. The British Legion also organises a cenotaph service and parade at Whitehall. Groups such as the British Red Cross, St John Ambulance, Civil Defence Association and the Salvation Army, as well as a huge parade of veterans also pass the [...]
Enlisting Poster WRENSThe Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) was the first branch in the Armed Forces and Royal Navy made up solely of women and is officially known as the Wrens. The Wrens was first formed during the First World War in 1917 and standard jobs included cook, clerk, weapons analyst and range assessor. By the end of the First World War the Wrens had 5,500 members, of which 500 were officers. 2,000 of its members were transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Wrens were disbanded in 1919 after the end of the First World War. Director Dame Katharine Furse joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) in 1909. During the First World War she was chosen to be the head of the first VAD to be sent to France. In 1917 Katharine became the Director of the then, newly formed, Women’s Royal Naval Service. Katharine was awarded three service medals and became a Dame. The Wrens were then revived during the Second World War in 1939 and their list of allowable activities included flying transport planes. Their recruiting slogans was ‘Join the Wrens – free a man for the fleet.’ At its peak the Women’s Royal Naval Services had 75,000 members, unfortunately 100 of those died during the First World War. By 1993 the Wrens had been integrated into the Royal Navy and were allowed to serve on board a navy vessel as a full member of the crew. In October 1990, HMS Brilliant was the first shop to allow a woman to officially serve on an operational warship. Those that were nurses joined the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS). Many of their jobs were dangerous and included the loading of torpedoes onto submarines and helping to plot the battle progress in operation rooms. They were also drafted into Bletchley Park where they were employed in supporting roles helping the Enigma code breakers. During the Second World War 303 WRENS were killed. The Wrens uniform consisted of a double-breasted jacket and skirt, with a shirt and tie. The Wrens wore the same rank insignia as their male equivalents, but their lettering was blue instead of gold. Their sleeve curls were also a diamond shape instead of the usual circle. Today, women in the Royal Navy serve in many roles. Some as pilots, air crew personnel and commanding officers of ships. Commander Sue Moore was the first woman to command a squadron of minor war vessels. Women are allowed to serve in the Royal Marines but not as RM Commandos.
Women serving in the military has always been a controversial topic. As increasing numbers of countries begin to expand the role of women in their militaries, the debate continues. In order to be on the front line, women have been known to cross dress. The Royal Navy were the first to employ women in 1969 allowing a few to be nurses and laundresses on hospital ships. This was a controversial move and by the 19th century both roles had been eliminated. The Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Service began in 1902 and is still in operation today. During World War II Britain established a uniformed service for women. This combined with the small units of nurses which had been in operation for a while meant that about 600,000 women served in the military. Most were working in units close to London where there was no risk of being captured by the enemy. The first woman was killed in the military in April 1942. It wasn’t until 1949 that women were officially recognised as a permanent part of the British armed forces. During that year the Women’s Royal Army Corps was created and the ranks were normalised in line with the ranks of men serving in the British Army. In 1989 women became eligible to pilot Royal Air Force combat aircrafts and the following year were allowed to serve on Royal Navy warships. It is only in recent years that women have been given a more prominent role in the armed forces. Female personnel currently make up 9% of the British armed forces. A ban on women serving in close combat units in the British military has been lifted by Prime Minister David Cameron, allowing them to enter the cavalry, infantry and armoured corps. In order for them to enter into the infantry they would still need to pass the fitness test, as do all males. The Army’s research shows that less than 5% of the 7,000 women serving in the British Army would pass the current tests to join the infantry. The lift of this ban, puts the UK in line with many of its allies, including the US. Are you a woman who has served in the British Military? What do you think about the ban being lifted?