‘FIELD OF REMEMBRANCE’ 2017 – WESTMINSTER ABBEY
The Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey was started in 1928 by Major
George Howson MC, the founder of the Royal British Legion Poppy Factory . He and a few disabled ex-servicemen from the Factory grouped together around a wooden battlefield cross - familiar to those who had served in Flanders and on the Western Front or elsewhere. Equipped with trays of poppies they invited passers-by to plant a poppy in the vicinity of the cross. The Poppy Factory continues to organise the ‘Field’ each year so that friends and relatives and fellow servicemen and women can remember those who lost their lives while serving with the armed services. The task of laying out the Field has grown significantly from those far off days and is now a substantial undertaking with well over 200 plots which are set out by volunteers from the RBL.
The Gallipoli Association is a relative newcomer to the Field, our involvement being the idea of David Saunders, the former Editor of The Gallipolian who, with the agreement of the then committee, obtained permission for the Association to have a plot in the year 2000, our first participation being the following year with some 54 crosses being laid in the Association plot. The number of crosses laid by, or on behalf of members of the Association has fluctuated only slightly over the past 16 years . This year, 63 crosses or other emblems of Remembrance were placed in the plot on behalf of members, the highest number in recent years - only equalled in 2015 when the same number were laid. The task of laying them fell to the Hon. Secretary’s brother, Clive; this might appear straightforward but the ground around Westminster Abbey can be hard and my brother ‘goes equipped’ with a hammer!
The Opening Ceremony this year took place on 9 November and was attended by HRH The Prince Harry. Royal Patronage of the ceremony has been almost unbroken since 1928 with HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother attending the ceremony and reviewing the plots for over 40 years.
This year, eleven members of the Association were present at the opening ceremony and stood behind the Association plot which was ‘fronted’ by Vicki Genrich, our Treasurer. Sadly, with so many plots to inspect, time caught up with Prince Harry and there was not enough time for him to stop at the Association plot but it is pleasing that he is carrying on the Royal tradition of attending the ceremony.