Remembrance Day 1971

I think that the most memorable Remembrance Day service that comes to mind must be the first year we lived in Singapore, which was in November 1971.

At that time my husband, who was a member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, was attached to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, Princess Margaret’s Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment.

Normally we would have attended the service either at the local war memorial or in the barracks’ church, but in Singapore the Remembrance Day service was held at Kranji War Cemetery at Changi. Kranji War Cemetery and the Singapore Memorial commemorates serviceman killed in Singapore and the Far East during World War Two, although it also has a small number of First World War graves. Changi is probably more well known as the site of the WW2 Japanese prisoner of war camp. To read further about Kranji War Cemetery go to Kranji War Cemetery and Singapore Memorial. The men were in No 1 dress uniform; trews or kilts for the Fusiliers and ‘best dress’ uniform for those attached to the regiment. It was a stirring sight to see the men arrive through the rows of sparkling white graves as the pipe band played sombre music. The service was traditional for forces in the field, with an altar made up of stacked drums. This was placed at the foot of the Singapore Memorial and draped with the regiment’s banner and the Union flag. It was like all Remembrance Day services, with hymns and readings. Seconds before 11am ‘The Last Post’ was sounded, followed by a minute’s silence and then the ‘reveille’.

Following the reveille, the fourth stanza from the poem ‘For The fallen’ by Laurence Binyon was read:-

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

By then, I don’t think there was a dry eye amongst the wives as we stood by the graves of so many young men who had died in Singapore during the Second World War. Many were the same age or younger than our husbands and friends in the regiment.

A lone piper played as wreaths were laid on the memorial, and then the regiment slowly marched out of the cemetery.


© geordiegirl 2008

‘For The Fallen’

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill;

Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon

Wikipedia: Laurence Binyon