In pictures: Remembrance Sunday services in and around Cambridge adapted for lockdown
A poignant Remembrance Sunday - the first since the invisible enemy of Covid-19 arrived on these shores - saw low-key but powerful ceremonies take place across the region today (November 8).
With church services cancelled for the first time in decades - it was originally called “Armistice Day” to commemorate armistice agreement that ended the First World War on November 11, 1918, at 11am, and became Remembrance Day in 1931 - the format changed to outdoor events at war memorials and to online services.
In Cambridge, the traditional ceremony is held at the war memorial on Hills Road. About 50 people attended, including the Mayoress and Deputy Mayor Alex Collis; Stephen Toope, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge; Cllr Mac McGuire, Chair of Cambs County Council; Deputy Lord Lieutenant Cambridgeshire Colonel Roger Herriot (Retired), Royal Anglian Regiment, and the city’s MP Daniel Zeichner with Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council.
Cllr Herbert laid a wreath today at Cambridge War Memorial on Hills Road. Later he told the Cambridge Independent: “We paid our tributes in a smaller than usual remembrance ceremony today, to all from Cambridge who served their country. Particularly to the small band of Cambridge survivors from World War Two who fought to defeat fascist Germany and Japan, and those who didn’t make it back home.
“It was sad but unavoidable that many families were not able to join us at the War Memorial this year. It was still a poignant event despite the number of local families who wanted to be there but were not able to this year. I know in my own ward of Coleridge just how many fondly remember family members who fought for their country, and as members of the Cambridgeshire Regiment who suffered badly as prisoners of the Japanese Army. Despite everything, there still was also plenty of colour and poignancy, including when our Mayor Russ McPherson switched from his full mayoral robes to Cambridge tartan to pipe the lament.”
Daniel Zeichner said: “I was honoured to lay a wreath this morning at the Cambridge War Memorial. It was a very different but moving ceremony today as a silence fell across our city and we remembered.”
The Zoom service was conducted by Rev Rachel Rosborough, who paid tribute to those who had given their lives for the cause of freedom. Among the songs was ‘Make Me A Channel of Your Peace’.
Around 40 attendees took place in a short socially distant service at the war memorial, immediately outside the St Mary the Virgin Church in Fen Ditton. The ceremony was conducted by Pro Ben Quash, who teaches theology at King’s College, London, and has lived in the village - currently between vicars - since 2007. The names of the 28 villagers who lost their lives during the two world wars were read out.
“It as very moving,” said Prof Quash shortly after the ceremony. “One of the villager is a bugler who played The Last Post, and those attending sang the first verse of the National Anthem government guidelines say you can sing but not for very long, so we thought that was okay.”
Michael Daniel, a resident in Fen Ditton since 1992, was in the High Street selling poppies. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps for 23 years. He wore his six medals with pride.
“One is for long service,” he explained, “another is a campaign medal for Malaya in the late 1950s, the next one is a UN Peacekeeping Medal for service in Cyprus in the 1970s, then for Northern Ireland, also in the 1970s, and a long service and good conduct medal which you used to get after 15 years - for ‘undetected crime’, as we used to say.
“I was a chartered environmental health practitioner for the army: it may not be generally recognised but the first job of army medical corps was to stop people becoming ill. As ayoung soldier I was in the hygiene and malarial control unit but I don’t think those units exist now. I served in Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong as well. There were accidents but not with my units.
“Normally the service is in the church, and this year everyone come out for the reading of the memorial - ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’. We had a proper memorial service at the war memorial, more than the usual weekly service. It was quite satisfactory.”