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A Nation's Thank You - 100th Anniversary of the Armistice

Updated on November 25, 2018
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I was extremely fortunate to win a ticket in the national ballot. So I have created this article as a permanent personal record of events.

A Nation's Thank You

I provide this article as a record of the circumstances of how I came to be part of the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war.

I decided to apply for a ticket in the online ballot to participate in the ceremony of A Nation's Thank You at the cenotaph London. To my delight my application was successful. This was a little piece of deja vue because I had also gone to King Richard III's reinterment in March 2015. (Link provided below)

I have just received the ticket by email and immediately I purchased my virgin train ticket to London.


Lest We Forget

Background History

There were casualties in the great war on both sides of our family.

My grandfather, Arthur was seriously wounded at the Somme and spent the rest of the war in Norwich hospital nursed by his future wife, Gladys Williams.

Philip Archibald Melhuish died May 24, 1916 aged 21 and is buried in the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France

It was in their names that I submitted my application. I do not have any medals of theirs. My grandfather died in 1964 and at the time I was 10 and had little idea of the importance of such events. But I do have my own father's (Geoffrey Broster) WWII medals and I am going to wear those with pride to honour him and both men who fought in the trenches.

Geoffrey Broster's WWII medals.

November 10th 2018

On Saturday November 10th I travelled down to London by my familiar route of Birmingham New Street to London Euston. I love Euston, despite losing its Victorian edifice it remains a hive of activity and a major access point to the capitol. Outside there is a memorial to the world wars and I paused there a while on this fitting occasion. Tottenham Court Road is a few steps to the west and this took me down into the city.

For a momentary diversion, at Oxford Street there is the Flying Horse pub where I stopped for refreshment. I first loved this pub when it was still called the Tottenham but today it has reverted to its earlier name and is probably better known as the pub where Cormoran Strike enjoys a pint out of the Robert Galbraith (J K Rowling) books.

I then moved on to my cousins to stay the night and also buy my wreath...

Ready to go to London

The finishing touches

I had not purchased a wreath in advance but that was fine because I really did not want one that was a mass of poppies. So when Lizzi Fiori's Floral Design only had ivy, I was delighted. She added a red ribbon to compliment the green and I was very proud of my wreath.

Technically I was all ready....

The Wreath to lay at the Cenotaph

A Nation's Thank You

We were asked to approach The Mall from the west so I walked down Constitution Hill with my poppy, medals and wreath on display. I quite felt the part and engaged in lots of smiles from well wishers as I moved down the road.

At the entrance we were required to swap our tickets for wrist bands. These displayed what column we should queue in. Mine was Column A, which sounded very important until I realized the columns were in alphabetical order.

Coffee, buns and croissants were available as were the poshest port-a-loos that I had ever seen in my life. We were ushered further down The Mall and there we began the long wait while the 11 am service took place followed by royalty laying their wreaths and the trooping of soldiers past and present.

Our turn came at approximately 12.30 and we moved solemnly up The Mall, through Trafalgar Square and down Parliament Street toward the cenotaph. At the cenotaph a continuously rotating team of volunteers took our wreaths. It was at this point that I realized how grateful I was for my wreath of ivy. It stood out from the crowd of poppies like a beacon.

From that point we walked down to Parliament Square and then back around to St James Park where we were released into the grounds becoming one with the public again.

At the Cenotaph

Aftermath

By the time I managed to walk to Trafalgar Square it was approximately 2 o'clock and the people with surnames beginning with T were just starting to march down to the cenotaph. I slid along the side of the street and went into The Lord Moon on the Mall and joined all the soldiers for a celebratory pint.

I was really happy that I had managed to do this. My father's medals that had for so long sat in a box in a cupboard, now finally had been in set in their proper context of remembering all those who served and I was glad to have been the bearer. I can honestly say that I will never forget the experience and treasure it all my remaining days.

Saint James Park Exit Point

Cambrian News Article

© 2018 Christine and Peter Broster

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