Time for reflection during Armed Forces Day

THE Woking community joined forces with military personnel past and present in a tribute to our brave armed services over the weekend.

Many hundreds gathered in Jubilee Square, around the war memorial of course, to pay homage at the annual and emotional Armed Forces Day ceremony.

ALL IN QUIET CONTEMPLATION – crowds gathered around the war memorial in Woking’s Jubilee Square during the weekend’s Armed Forces Day

ALL IN QUIET CONTEMPLATION – crowds gathered around the war memorial in Woking’s Jubilee Square during the weekend’s Armed Forces Day

The Woking Royal Naval Association marched through the town to the square, where a short service was held with speakers representing the RAF, Royal Marines and the Army.

Families, veterans, cadets, service personnel on leave, and residents of all ages showed support and respect, singing along to old war songs such as Pack up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag accompanied by the Almac Bisley Brass Band. Knaphill resident Anne Harwood spoke proudly of the ceremony and those who attended.

She said: “It was all so touching, it brought a tear to my eye. They have so much courage and heart.”

Representatives from different sectors of the military read out poems and speeches in tribute to their comrades, and about their own experiences and duties. One such speaker, Rajen Chhetri, recited out his own poem dedicated to the Armed Forces, a verse of which read: “Whatever one’s colour, ethnicity and creed, whatever one’s social status or breed, united as comrades in arms.”

A minute’s silence followed, culminating in the laying of wreaths by the British Army, the RAF and the Naval Service. Ben Fraser, who laid the laurel on behalf of the Royal Marines, said how proud he is to be part of the Armed Forces. He added: “It is the best lifestyle, the best job, and I have made some of the best friends I could have wanted in life.”

The representatives of the Armed Forces gave their final salute, and made their way out of the square and back towards the Railway Club- where they quickly took refuge due to a sudden downpour. Here the Veterans exchanged stories with serving personnel and the cadets- enjoying refreshments as well as each other’s company.

Originally named Veteran’s Day, plans were first announced during February 2006 by Gordon Brown, in the aim to ensure the contribution of veterans was never forgotten.

It became part of the “Veteran’s Awareness Week” and changed its name to Armed Forces day in 2009. While Remembrance Day concentrates on commemorating the fallen and those who have died- the Armed Forces Day is dedicated to the living (current/former) servicemen and women.

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