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Wootton Bassett: A very British way of mourning


If Wootton Bassett had had the money to build a proposed by-pass, it would never have found a place in history. Lack of funds to divert traffic has had the unforeseen consequence of turning this otherwise obscure market town in Wiltshire into a national focus for honouring those who have given their lives in the service of their country. Twice this week on Monday, and again on Friday townspeople, visitors and the world's media will have gathered to watch a funeral cortege as it passes down the High Street.

The ceremony that has grown up in Wootton Bassett is as simple and moving as the coffins themselves, wrapped only in the Union flag. As the hearses approach, the tenor bell of St Bartholomew's Church begins to toll. Business stops while shoppers and shopkeepers join the crowds lining the pavement. When the cortege reaches the war memorial, the president of the British Legion says a single word "Up" to mark the moment when ex- and serving members of the forces should begin their salute. "Down," he says 60 seconds later, as the hearses move on.

"It is a most strange feeling," says Sally Hardy, manager of the Sue Ryder charity shop. "When the bell from the parish church starts to toll and the police stop the traffic, there is just silence. It is a very unusual thing to find in a town. Just about everybody and anybody comes out. It makes me feel there but for the grace of God go my son and daughter."

Dennis Smith, 73, an assistant at butchers K & E J Crump & Sons and a former corporal in the 5th Royal Tank Regiment, also stops serving when the coffins pass. "We all stand outside the shop and take our hats off. They come out of the pubs and stand in silence. It is a very patriotic scene. Everybody shows their appreciation of what the soldiers are doing."

In the last two years, Wootton Bassett has become a very British version of Arlington, the US cemetery where respect is paid to the fallen. No fuss. No flowers or razzmatazz. No tired old formulae of condolence dished out by the PM before the argy-bargy of Prime Minister's Questions begins. Just thousands of people, young and old, standing with lowered eyes and lumps in their throats at the thought of yet more young lives ended in a distant land.

"Sometimes, people have waited three hours to pay their respects," says Mayor Steve Bucknell. "These poor guys have no more time to give, so the least we can do is give our time."

Published Last July:



From The Queen's Royal Lancers Website:

A Lament

Goodbye to my England, So long my old friend
     Your days are numbered, being brought to an end
     To be Scottish, Irish or Welsh that's fine
     But don't say you're English, that's way out of line.
     The French and the Germans may call themselves such
     So may Norwegians, the Swedes and the Dutch
     You can say you are Russian or maybe a Dane
     But don't say you're English ever again.
     At Broadcasting House the word is taboo
     In Brussels it's scrapped, in Parliament too
     Even schools are affected, staff do as they're told
     They must not teach children about England of old.
     Writers like Shakespeare, Milton and Shaw
     The pupils don't learn about them anymore
     How about Agincourt, Hastings, Arnhem or Mons ?
     When England lost hosts of her very brave sons.
     We are not Europeans, how can we be?
     Europe is miles away over the sea
     We're the English from England , let's all be proud
     Stand up and be counted - Shout it out loud !
     Let's tell our Government and Brussels too
     We're proud of our heritage and the Red, White and Blue
     Fly the flag of Saint George or the Union Jack
     Let the world know - WE WANT OUR ENGLAND BACK !!!!

If you are English pass it on please



-----Original Message-----

From: Dennis

Sent: 13 July 2009 10:33

To: Keith Jones

Subject: FW: GMP Retired sent you a message on Facebook... 

Subject: Modern Times (Area searched no trace) 

 This is a genuine complaint to Devon & Cornwall Police Force from an

 angry member of the public.

A true email sent to the force, lengthy but brilliantly written.....>>>>>


 Dear Sir/Madam/Automated telephone answering service:

Having spent the

 past twenty minutes waiting for someone at Bodmin police station to

 pick up a telephone I have decided to abandon the idea and try

 e-mailing you instead. 

 Perhaps you would be so kind as to pass this message on to your

 colleagues in Bodmin, by means of smoke signal, carrier pigeon or Ouija


 As I'm writing this e-mail there are eleven failed medical experiments

 (I think you call them youths) in St Mary's Crescent, which is just

 off St Mary's Road in Bodmin.

 Six of them seem happy enough to play a game which involves kicking a

 football against an iron gate with the force of a meteorite. This

 causes an earth shattering CLANG! which rings throughout the entire


This game is now in its third week and as I am unsure how the scoring

 system works, I have no idea if it will end any time soon.

  The remaining five walking-abortions are happily rummaging through

 several bags of rubbish and items of furniture that someone has so

 thoughtfully dumped beside the wheelie bins. One of them has found a

 saw and is setting about a discarded chair like a beaver on speed.

  I fear that it's only a matter of time before they turn their limited

 attention to the bottle of Calor gas that is lying on its side between

 the two bins.

 If they could be relied on to only blow their own arms and legs off

 then I would happily leave them to it. I would even go so far as to

 lend them the matches. 

 Unfortunately they are far more likely to blow up half the street with

 them and I've just finished decorating the kitchen.

  What I suggest is this - after replying to this e-mail with worthless

 assurances that the matter is being looked into and will be dealt

 with, why not leave it until the one night of the year (probably bath

 night) when there are no mutants around then drive up the street in a

 Panda car before doing a three point turn and disappearing again. This

 will of course serve no other purpose than to remind us what policemen

actually look like.

  I trust that when I take a claw hammer to the skull of one of these

 throwbacks you'll do me the same courtesy of giving me a four month

 head start before coming to arrest me. 

 I remain sirs, your obedient servant .......?

The Guards Depot at Caterham in days gone past

>>>>>>> WATCH HERE <<<<<<<

From the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette Thursday 17th September 1778


The Grenadiers of the whole army are now formed into two battalions,

are totally detached from their own regiments, exercise by themselves,

and held in constant readiness for detached parties.


 The farmers will reap great advantages from the encampment

many Colonels, as well as he regulars as militia, having granted their men leave to work in the different hop grounds

which will be of great service to such soldiers as have wives and children, be the means of getting in the hops

a month sooner than cold be otherwise expected.






An apt reminder of days gone past from JP Allen Ex 1st - 3rd Bn

with appreciation to Jim White for the publication in his Sunday newsletter


Looking Back

Its 1947 I am doing a Buck House GUARD
But outside the railings
'not' in the COURTYARD
One rifle tap means go for a little WALK
When we meet in the middle just some small TALK
Then about turn and back to the box I GO
Cameras click & click you have to make a SHOW
Next to you they stand for a photo to be TOOK
From the corner of my eye I give a little LOOK
Now all that pomp is gone and no more DONE
I feel sorry for the Guardsmen, health and safety have WON
Now press against the railings to see the sentries CHANGE
I think somehow- that does not seem the SAME



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The British Berlin Military Train


These images are from the menu that constituted dining on the daily run through the Berlin Corridor.


(Click to view full size)





A little bit of Drumming or maybe not?



Page Last Updated: 11/09/2017