Officers of the 5 (Maresfield) Signal Squadron, 11 (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment, marched through Maresfield Park and to St Bartholomew’s Church for a Remembrance service this morning.
Villagers lined the route to watch. Bells rang out, and the church was full, as the centenary of the end of World War 1 was marked and the Fallen from both World Wars and other conflicts were remembered.
This is the second year running that officers from the Maresfield Squadron have joined the Remembrance ceremony in the village.
They were returning to their roots because a training centre for the Royal Corps of Signals was formed on the Maresfield Park estate in 1920.
Yesterday, as last year, the officers carried out jobs in Maresfield while inviting villagers to join them.
The Remembrance service was conducted by squadron chaplain the Rev Paul Neiland who said links were being re-established that go back almost 100 years.
He said it was also a great privilege for him personally, as he was Irish and very proud to be part of the British Army, to stand in the church today and remember with the congregation, the sacrifice of so many.
He said about 210,000 Irish men stood side by side with their nearest neighbours, and 35,000 of them didn’t return.
Neighbour stood beside neighbour, irrespective of religious belief or political persuasion, but much of this was airbrushed from Irish history until a welcome visit from Queen Elizabeth when the people of Ireland started rediscovering part of their history and heritage, the part played by so many Irish who stood shoulder to shoulder with their neighbours to fight for peace and justice.
“And so it should be neighbour stood beside neighbour, shoulder to shoulder in the true spirit of friendship and camaraderie,” he said.
The chaplain continued: “Today we come together to remember the lives lost and incredible sacrifice of so many 100 years ago, also those who have lost their lives since.”
He added: “They gave their tomorrow so we can live today in a world of peace, justice and equality.”
He said there was absolutely no glory in war or the turmoil reaped by it but there was incredible courage in giving one’s life for another, and that is what was celebrated here today, in the UK, Ireland, and many countries of Europe and around the world.
“Today we give thanks for those who, irrespective of religious belief or political persuasion, stood neighbour beside neighbour, shoulder to shoulder, the incredible sacrifice of those who lay down their lives so we today can live in freedom, and today, as every year, we remember.”
After the service, the chaplain, officers of the regiment, gathered around the war memorial in the church grounds with a backdrop of a ‘weeping willow’ of poppies.
Children from Bonners Primary School planted crosses as the names of 11 villagers who perished in World War 1 were read out, wreaths were laid and then the Last Post was played by Jonathan Hodgson, as officers of Maresfield Squadron stood to attention and saluted, followed by Reveille after two minutes silence.