Towns pause to remember the fallen

Remembrance Day ceremony in Peoples Park, Banbury
Remembrance Day ceremony in Peoples Park, Banbury

Thousands of people fell silent across the region on Sunday to pay their respects to the UK’s war dead.

With the 11th Day of the 11th Month falling this year on Remembrance Sunday, services were held in town and village communities including Banbury, Brackley, Chipping Norton and Bodictoe.

In Banbury, serving troops stood shoulder to shoulder with veterans from campaigns including Dunkirk, Suez and the Gulf Wars in and annual parade and church service organised by the Banbury branch of the Royal British Legion.

Servicemen from 4th Battalion The Rifles, RAF Croughton, The Kineton Ammunition Technical Support Group and the Territorial Army 805 Signal Troop Banbury, were joined by RBL members, town dignitaries and groups including the Banbury branches of the Royal Navy Association, the Royal Air Force Association.

From the band stand in High Street the procession – led by the Air Training Corps Band and followed by Banbury’s Army and Sea Cadets and Scouts and Guides, arrived at a packed St Mary’s Church for a special commemorative service.

Afterwards wreaths were laid at the War Memorial in Peoples Park before a march past in High Street and a reception at the Town Hall.

Richard Reading, 24, of 4th Battalion The Rifles who has recently seen service in Afghanistan and Somalia and will return to Helmand Province in February, said it was important for him to return to his home town for Remembrance Sunday.

“We’ve had so many killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. You can’t pick and choose the families you go to on this day, so I always come back to Banbury,” he said.

“You’ve got to makes the most of days like today and remember the people who have gone and the people they have left behind.”

Tom Jackson, 82, who served in the Coldstream Guards during the Suez crisis said: “It’s a good thing, it’s important to remember those who are no longer with us.”

Chris Smithson, chairman of RBL’s Banbury branch, was delighted with the support received this year for the Remembrance ceremony and the town’s Poppy Appeal, which he co-ordinates.

“We raised a record of £40,000 last year and we’re hoping to beat that if we can,” he said. “The support we get from the community has been fantastic, especially the young people like the Sea Cadets and Army Cadets. Without them this would not be possible.”

Mr Smithson – formerly of the Royal Signals – also praised the work of the Guards Association which raised £17,000 from poppy collections at stations along the Chiltern Rail Line in one 12-hour stint.