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Farnham marks WWI centenary

Older people in wheelchairs and soldiers standing behind.

Large crowds of people gathered in Farnham on Sunday (11 November) to pay their respects and commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War and those that had died in conflicts since.

As 11am approached, a joint procession of some 450 people comprising the armed forces, veterans, local dignitaries, uniformed services and local scout and guide groups was led by Sgt Andy Crane of Surrey Police and Col Tony Guthrie TD DL representing the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey and the Mayors of Farnham and Waverley. They marched from the site of the world’s first two-minute silence held in Castle Street in May 1916 to the war memorial at Gostrey Meadow with music played by the Alder Valley Brass Band.

At exactly 11am, Farnham fell silent for two minutes. Councillor David Attfield the Mayor of Farnham said: “It is hard to believe that this time exactly 100 years ago our town would have been thinking about the sons, brothers and husbands who had left their families to fight in the war and that many would never come back or would come back changed men.”

He continued: “The signing of the armistice at 11am on 11 November 1918 marked the end of a dreadful time in the country’s history and that is why we continue to gather together each year on this day to thank the men and women who have served not only in the two world wars but many armed conflicts and peacetime activities since then. I’m honoured to represent Farnham on this very special Remembrance Sunday and would like to thank the Parade Marshall, Ian Hunter for bringing all the contingents together so professionally.”

The parade reached Gostrey Meadow at 10.45am for the remembrance ceremony which was organised jointly by Farnham Town Council and the Royal British Legion with the war memorial guard of honour comprising female cadets from each of the services. The numbers attending were so great that the public had to find vantage points where they could see across the river in Gostrey Meadow.

The Last Post was played by Steve Burgess prior to the large crowd taking part in two minutes’ silence to remember the fallen, during which the only sound was the wind rustling through the trees. The end of the silence was marked by him playing Reveille. One of the oldest veterans on parade, Percy Bartlett (95) read the Kohima epitaph ’When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.

Local representatives of veterans and military, civic and business, community and youth organisations laid wreaths at the memorial and Eva Porter laid a wreath on behalf of the young people of Farnham.

After the ceremony, the congregation walked to St Andrew’s Church for the remembrance service with a March Past and salute taken in front of the Town Council offices in South Street. Roger Brown, Chairman of the Farnham Branch of the Royal British Legion said: “The turnout of the public was fantastic and it was amazing that the sun shone as the parade started. Remembrance Sunday is such a special day for the British Legion veterans in remembering our forefathers and their families. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t enjoy freedoms and lifestyles we enjoy today.”

Elsewhere across Farnham and surrounding villages, services were held in Badshot Lea, Rowledge, Hale, St Thomas on the Bourne, St Peter’s at Wrecclesham and Weybourne.

See our picture gallery to see more pictures of how Farnham came together to remember.

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