Peter Snow addresses the gathering at the rededication of war memorials after reading the words of his grandfather General Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow 100 years ago.

 

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REMEMBRANCE may have been curtailed in Blandford, as elsewhere, in 2020, but the town more than made up for the fact in 2021, with not only the usual events culminating in the parade and church service on Remembrance Sunday, but also the rededication the Sunday before of the town war memorials 100 years after their installation.

The reading of  the 117 names of men from Blandford who fell in World War One and 43 in World War Two took almost ten minutes at the rededication in the Market Place on Sunday November 7.

They were read by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant Angus Campbell, North Dorset MP Simon Hoare, High Sheriff Michael Dooley and Dorset Council chairman Cllr Val Pothecary during the ceremony hosted by Blandford Town Council just over 100 years after the original dedication of the World War I plaques in 1921.

Guest of honour was broadcaster Peter Snow, reading from the address of his grandfather, the First World War General Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow who unveiled the memorials at the original ceremony.

Taking part in the service led by the Mayor’s Chaplain, Pastor Dale Carmichael from Blandford Evangelical Church, was Freeman of Blandford Dr Michael Le Bas, who gave the Exhortation both there and on Armistice Day wearing the medals of his father who fought in both World Wars.

The Stour Valley Band, which also played on Remembrance Sunday, played before and during the ceremony, Sig. Kincaid of 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment read the Kohima Epitaph, Geordie Thomson played The Last Post and, after the Two Minute Silence, Reveille, at all the town centre ceremonies.

The Market Place rededication came to a close with the hymn ‘For All the Saints’, which was sung at the 1921 dedication service, and thanks from the Mayor, Cllr Lee Hitchings, who had given the opening welcome and address.

Guests and members of the public then travelled by coach and car to the cemetery in Salisbury Road, where the Royal British Legion Blandford Branch hosted the rededication of the Cross of Sacrifice and service of commemoration for all those who have died in past conflict and those buried in the Commonwealth War Graves in the cemetery.

In attendance were representatives from Blandford Camp and members of the Royal Signals Band who provided musical interludes, the Last Post, Reveille and accompaniment to the hymn ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’. Rebecca Smith from the Commonwealth War Graves Society gave an address, and a piper played a Lament by whilst the gathering visited the graves to pay their respects.

In their addresses, Mr Snow and Cllr Hitchings highlighted particularly the loss of life, both locally and worldwide, as a result of Spanish Flu and the parallels with the current covid pandemic claiming millions of lives, including many of those buried at Blandford.

On Thursday November 11, Armistice Day, a short but moving service was held amongst the busy market stalls outside the Corn Exchange, and on Friday representatives of town schools gathered in the church grounds next to the Field of Remembrance to pay tribute with Royal British Legion and town council representatives. Mayor’s Chaplain Emma Carmichael gave a short address on the significance of the poppy and Year 7 pupil Thomas Swift from The Blandford School read the Kohima Epitaph.

Finally on Remembrance Sunday came the afternoon parade and ceremony followed by a service in Blandford Parish Church.