Friday, 29 January 2010

A day of two halves.

Warning – rather long post!!

Well, today was an interesting day.  I had the day off work because Mum arrived last night and we’re having a long weekend together!

As it turned out, it was also the day of one of the repatriation journeys through my little town of Wootton Bassett; and it was also the day chosen for the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to pay a little visit to our part of the world!

They did not come to the repatriation itself as that would not have been appropriate, but we went to see the last journey of those soldiers.  Despite the fact that there have been many repatriations home (too many I should say), it was actually my first one as I am usually at work when the soldiers arrive home. 

The repatriation was very moving indeed, everyone gathers in the High Street and stands around chatting to each other while the press set up their cameras and whatnot.

Then when the first police motorbike comes through, the Church bells start tolling and everyone falls silent – it really is quite an eerie moment.  The black cars then come into the town and stop in the middle of the road where the soldiers are paid respect to by local people and other soldiers (both old soldiers and those still serving).

It really was a very moving event – the mourning friends and family were on the other side of the road to us and there were two soldiers in battle fatigues and they were holding a single rose each (to place on the car) and then once they did they hugged each other and saluted the coffin in the car.  It was just……..heart breaking.

While I don’t particularly support the war because all war is such a cruel thing, I do think that it is nice that we can pay our respects to our fallen soldiers and offer up a public symbol of that respect through our town of Wootton Bassett.

Anyway, about two hours later we were all stood around in the bitter bitter cold waiting for Prince Charles and Camilla to arrive and dedicate a new flagpole as a permanent reminder of that very support and respect that Wootton Bassett offer to the soldiers.

While we were waiting we were entertained by the activities of everybody organising the event and the local marching band!

Finally….Charles and Camilla arrived and due to people being in the way of my camera I got some very very bad quality photos indeed as the camera was focusing on the wrong person!!  But still, have a look at the photos below!!

The flag was duly dedicated and raised and the Last Post was played on a trumpet.  But not before it started snowing!  Yes, it was so cold it snowed – as you can see from a very cold Mum……


So there you have it – a day of two halves  - one rather sad but very moving event, and one very cold but uplifting moment!  (no, my Fridays are not usually quite this eventful!!)

Update: Mum (using her lovely Mac) has managed to clean up one of my photos and it looks a bit better!


Mrs.Spit said...

I am finally starting to warm to Camilla.

She does have the greatest of hats.

Thanks for the pictures.

rochambeau said...

Thank you. This was fun!

Tess said...

I agree with not supporting the war, But, paying respect to our soldiers. I have not been able to witness one of these type events even thought I live near a military post. As with you I am usually at work. Having Charles and Camilla arrive after was good for an uplift after such a somber event I am sure. Thanks for sharing...

Reluctant Blogger said...

Oh I do still love your spots!

I had no idea you lived in Wootton Bassett. Every time it is on the news (and it's on a lot) I think it must be an odd place to live with these frequent repatriations. So it was lovely to find out that someone I "know" does live there.

Charlie was visiting me earlier in the week. He was at UEA and we all had to dress up in our finest to go and meet him. I couldn't really take any photos though - that wouldn't have been appropriate. He didn't speak to me. But I have spoken to him before. He used to use the field of my children' primary school in Wales to land when he visited the National Library of Wales and we'd all line up and he'd say a few words. I was impressed with him!

The Strawberry Mallard said...

Oh my ~ my DH has been there 3 times on business trips ( none of which I was able to join him on :o(

He was able to take the train to Scotland one weekend ~ one lucky devil he is!
Thanks for sharing these photos and the story behind the day!


Alice Teh said...

Nice pics, Sam! LOL at Mrs Spit comment about Camilla's hats.

Arizaphale said...

Gotta love a brush with fame! And yes, showing respect for those who have died in the service of their country is a fitting and proper thing to do regardless of your feelings on the war.

Heckety said...

Does Wootton Basset have a very strong Service tradition?
Agree with you on paying respects to the fallen but not with the cause- as a civilian interested in history it seems to me terrible that we all stay home in our comfortable little lives whilst other folks husbands, brothers, fathers, etc go off and fight 'our' wars. How would I feel if that was my bro? Appalled, heartbroken, furious, unforgiving? Certainly nothing would EVER be the same afterwards.
Glad you enjoyed Charles and Camilla, the RF do add a bit of excitement whatever you think of them!

Heckety said...

Wow, rapid response!

Well I think it is good that people see for themselves the results of some of the decisions in high places. Here things always happen in Dublin and the outside world can seem rather unreal. No one takes responsibility for actions if they can't see the end result...unfortunately, to put it at its worst, coffins and horrifically wounded Service people.
It may sound corny but whenever a Repatriation parade is on the news I get our girls to watch, to try and bring some reality home to them. It makes me cry too, and so it damn well should.

Sunny said...

Wow, what an emotional day! Love the pictures, thanks for sharing. The Royal Family has always seemed so unreal to me, I loved getting a glimpse through your eyes -- or camera, as it may be. :)

Toucan Scraps said...

a mixed day. thank you for sharing this with us