Armistice Day services to honour war dead
Two services of remembrance will be held in the borough next Friday to honour the memory of the men and women of the armed forces who have given their lives in the service of their country.
Annual services of remembrance will be held in Battersea Park and at Wandsworth Town Hall at 11am on Armistice Day – Friday, November 11 – to mark the 98th anniversary of the moment the guns fell silent at the end of hostilities in the First World War.
Both will commence at 10.45am and there will be a two minutes’ silence at 11am to mark the precise time on November 11, 1918, that a ceasefire came into effect after four years of bitter fighting.
Attending the Battersea Park ceremony will be the Mayor of Wandsworth Cllr Richard Field and council leader Ravi Govindia as well as representatives of service organisations, other local dignitaries and private mourners, who will lay wreaths.
This ceremony will be at the park’s war memorial, which is dedicated to the service of the 24th (London) Division during the First World War.
The memorial is located at the junction of Central Avenue and East Carriage Drive and was created by renowned war artist and sculptor Eric Kennington, who served as a private in the Division’s 13th London Regiment in Flanders and in France before being wounded and sent home in June 1915.
His Portland stone memorial shows three helmeted soldiers with a serpent of war entwined through their legs and feet and commemorates the division’s 10,865 losses. The left figure is based on Trooper Morris Clifford Thomas of the Machine Gun Corps, the central one on Sergeant J Woods of the 9th Royal Sussex, while the third is based on war poet and writer Robert Graves who served as a Captain with the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The memorial was unveiled in 1924.
The town hall service will be in the garden fronting Wandsworth High Street where four stone tablets commemorate the service and sacrifices made by local men and women who have served in the borough’s volunteer armed forces since 1914.
A tablet was first laid here in 1965 to honour the memory of men of the 13th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment – the Wandsworth Pals battalion – who answered the Mayor of Wandsworth’s call to arms in 1915.
Two others were added in 2009 to honour those who have served in 16 locally-based territorial army units since the onset of the First World War.
The fourth was added last year to commemorate those with a link to Wandsworth who have been awarded either a Victoria Cross or a George Cross – Britain’s two highest awards for valour.
There are 20 names on the tablet – 18 of whom were servicemen awarded a Victoria Cross plus two who received the George Cross.
While the town hall ceremony is aimed chiefly at council staff, members of the public are also welcome to attend. A pupil from St Cecilia’s CofE secondary school in Southfields, which specialises in music, will play Last Post and Reveille.