Sunday, 9 November 2014

Lest we forget. Remembrance Sunday services in Harefield, with a touch of bird watching in between.

I stayed at Mum's house in Harefield last night. Harefield was hosting two services for Remembrance Sunday, one at St Marys church in the morning with another on Harefield Common in the afternoon. As this year is the anniversary of 100 years since the start of World War 1, I decided to attend both services and pay my respects in my own way, by documenting the events in photos.
But first, I was up early at Mums and whilst making my first coffee of the day I saw we had a new occupant in the field at the bottom of Mum's garden. Within the last 24 hours a new foal had been born. The mother was naturally very protective, and in the early morning mist I stood silently in my pyjamas watching the bonding process begin.
Later this afternoon, the sun came out and the foal and mother were much more relaxed.

Also visiting the garden in the morning mist was a Sparrowhawk. We know there's a pair that frequent the area, but they are always too quick for me to photograph. But today must have been my lucky day as the female sat in next doors fir tree for some while. I just wish it hadn't have been so misty. I could have got some better shots if the sky had been blue.......

After she flew off (empty-taloned) the resident House Sparrows were soon back out at the bottom of the garden.

Mid-morning I made my way to St Marys church. I have long established links to this church. My paternal Great Grandparents and Grandparents are buried here. Both sets of my Grandparents were married here, my own parents were christened here and married each other here. Many of my Aunts and Uncles were also christened and married here. Several Great Uncles and Aunts are buried here, and their children were also christened here. And last but by no means least, my cousin Scott and my daughter Rebecca, are also buried here. St Marys is very much a part of me and it seemed a very fitting place to be this morning.
I didn't attend the service inside the church, instead I walked around the Anzac graves, reading every inscription and silently thanking the fallen soldiers who had given their lives for us.

I wasn't the only one who had chosen to remember this way.
Whilst the congregation in the church sang and prayed, an elderly decorated veteran quietly appeared from a waiting cab, laid his wreath at the Anzac memorial, bowed his head, saluted and then left in the cab as quietly and as dignified as he had arrived. I observed from a respectful distance.
As the time drew nearer for the two minutes silence at 11am, my presumption that I would be alone amongst the Anzac graves soon was mistaken. Several other people had appeared and were doing the same as I had done, wandering around the head stones and reading the inscriptions. Perhaps for me, the most striking observation was when a group of around ten joggers came down the hill and all paused at the Anzac memorial. As the church bells rung on the stroke of 11am, joggers clad in their luminous lycra, others in their Sunday best, myself clad in outdoor walking gear and a lady clad all in black, all stood still, clasped our hands in front of us and bowed our heads.
I'm not ashamed to say I had tears in my eyes.
After the service, the congregation came to lay wreaths at the memorial.

A lone trumpeter played as the flag was first lowered to half mast and then risen again.
I deliberated a lot on whether to post the photo below. I felt like an intruder taking the photo, but there was something about the woman laying a wreath with the child, that truly echoed the whole momentum of today. With the lady so obviously sad and the child so innocent, I wondered if by posting the photo I would be crossing a line. After much soul searching, I decided I would post the photo. So judge me as you like, the only apology I will make, if I have to, will be to the lady in the photo. If she wishes me to remove it, I will.
 For me, this photo alone, says it all.
As the rest of the congregation drifted away, I took one final shot of the Anzac memorial.

I had a couple of hours to myself before heading to Harefield Common for the second service. Before heading back to Mum's house for some lunch, I had a wander around the grounds of St Marys.
There were plenty of winter visiting Fieldfares around. Most of them were in large numbers flitting from tree to field to tree and were incredibly flighty, but I managed one shot of a solo bird sitting high within the church grounds.......
There was a huge flock of Goldfinches flying around.....

and, of course, the often seen Red Kites over Harefield also made an appearance.....

Please excuse the dark camera lens wasn't cleaned thoroughly.....
I was making my way back to London Gate when I stopped at one of the stiles and just happened to catch sight of a Buzzard in the distance being mobbed by a Carrion Crow.....
My decision to wait a few minutes paid dividends as both the Buzzard and Crow suddenly appeared behind a nearby row of trees......

I love watching Buzzards. They are so spectacular in flight, and no matter how many Crows mob them, they just regally soar away.
Also on my way back to Mums there were plenty of Pied Wagtails around...

After the usual enjoyable and tasty lunch at my Mums, I was off to the second service of the day on Harefield Common whilst Mum was off to take her 'ladies' out as part of the 'Contact the Elderly' charity that she runs every month. The charity organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for people aged 75 and over, who live alone with little, or no support, from their family. For more information please visit their website: .I've gained a new 'Nan' through this organisation, our Alice, so can highly recommend it.
The parade for the Harefield Remembrance Sunday service always starts with a gathering out side of the church hall. The parade then walks up the High Street, over the roundabout by the Kings Arms pub and across the common to the memorial.


It was lovely to see it's not just us human beans that can wear the traditional 'poppy'......
The service itself was sombre and that was to be expected. The weather was on our side. It might have been chilly in the November sun, but not one person whether it be man, woman, child or dog, barely moved as hymns were sung and prayers were read.



As I stood amongst the people of Harefield, I recognised the lady with the child I had seen this morning at the Anzac memorial. And after the crowds dispersed, I went to look at the second wreath she had laid that day.
She wasn't a woman mourning for her husband as I had first thought when I saw the medals on her coat and the child by her side. She is a Mother mourning for her son, who lost his life in the line of duty in 2011.
This is Remembrance Sunday. The poppy isn't just for every man and woman who has lost their lives during conflicts over the last 100 years. The poppy is a symbol for all of our people in conflicts both past and present, but sadly for the future too.
I have been researching my ancestors over the years, and several of my Great Grand Uncles fought in WW1 and many of my Grandparents brothers fought in WW2. But there is one outstanding relative.........
So to end my blog, this is my maternal Great Uncle, Ernest Jac Owen. My Grandads brother (my Grandad being Albert Owen aka Albie) Born 1916, Ernest died during WW2 on the 7th January 1943 on board a ship that was sunk near Tobruk. His body was never recovered.
The photo is of Ernest and his bride, Peggy, in 1940. Ernest was 24. He died two years later.

Lest we forget.......

1 comment:

  1. Lovely thought provoking blog from start to finish. I am now thinking about that young soldier and his bereaved mum, and possibly his daughter or niece. I lost my Great Great Grandad in WW1 and my Grandad in WW2, he also died on a ship as a prisoner of war that was torpedoed. All brave men that gave their lives for our freedom <3 x