Added Nov 2012 


Just one man's thoughts, those of John W Harvey

Born in Keepers Cottage, Shalford in 1930


  It all started on Friday, 9 Nov 2012 when as a member of the Peterborough Branch of the Royal British Legion I attended the homecoming parade of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment (The Vikings) who paraded through Peterborough with band playing Colours Flying and with fixed bayonets. Many years ago they had been Granted the Freedom of the City. They had only returned from Afghanistan a few weeks ago and how well they were received, the streets were packed with cheering crowds, many of them waving Union Jacks. During their tour of duty from February to October they had had four members of their Battalion killed, only one of the Battalion was a Royal Anglian, Corporal William Guy, but two Sappers attached to them, Lance Corporal Matthew Smith and Sapper Conner Ray were killed as was Lieutenant Andrew Chesterman of the 3rd Battalion the Rifles who was also attached to 'The Vikings'

legion  My second day of Remembrance was of course the 10th Nov 2012, the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. In my opinion I felt it was the best ever and hit all the right notes. A most fitting tribute to 'Our Fallen'

  But the day that meant most to me was the 11 November and being able to parade with the Wethersfield and Shalford Branch of the Royal British Legion at St, Andrews Church, Shalford. This brought back so many happy memories, I was baptised in the Church and attended the Sunday School under Molly Wright and was in the Church Choir whilst at the Village School. My sister Joan was married in the Church during WWII, to Colin Hunt, a member of the Royal Australian Air Force who was a Navigator on Mosquito Fighter Bombers.

   It meant an early start from my home in Lincolnshire and how well the day started, I saw dawn breaking with the sun as it rose from a golden sky as a huge red ball, clearing the mist as it rose and along the whole long journey passing trees and hedgerows ablaze with truly amazing late autumn colours. How pleasing it was to hear the church bells ringing out across the village and attend the service with a full congregation and even a choir. St Andrews is truly blessed to have such support.

  I had been in touch with a Tom Gold, great grandson of Major Guy Gilbey Gold for some time. Of course Major Gold during his lifetime generously gave the village both its playing field and village hall and after the end of WWII paid for a clock on the roof of the hall in memory of his son, Captain Rodney Wyman Gold who whilst serving in the Essex Yeomanry was killed at Anzio in Italy on 24 February 1944 and whose name is on the village War memorial

  Tom Gold is a grandson of Rodney and he travelled all the way from Glasgow to be at the service, he also brought with him his younger brother George who lives in North Yorkshire. This was the first time any of the Gold family had been in St. Andrews since they sold Abbotts Hall and how pleased the Legion members and many others were to see them. I was amazed to learn that Rodney Gold's wife, Rosemary is still alive at the age of 100 with her memory and mental faculties unimpaired.

  It was exactly 75 years earlier that I had last paraded at St. Andrews on Remembrance Sunday. Then it was with the Shalford Wolf Cubs, our Cub leader being John Crittall who lived in the village and was Chairman of the Crittall Metal Window Company. We met in his garage which is still there today with occasional meetings in the Tack Room at Abbotts Hall

  I found the whole service most inspiring with the Branch Standard being carried so proudly by Lawrence Rawlinson and this added so much to the dignity of the service as did the trumpeter who played the Last Post and Reveille when the two wreaths were laid at the memorial at 1 lam, the exact time that the Armistice had been signed to end the Great War 94 years ago. It was with some pride that I was able to lay a wreath from the Essex Yeomanry Association to honour the men of Shalford who gave their lives in the two World wars and in particular Captain Rodney Gold of the Regiment, in which I had the great privilege to serve for two years during my Territorial Army Service.

  Finally the Reverend John Shead, himself a National Serviceman of the mid 1950' s and now retired, but a former Vicar of Shalford. He read out the names of the Fallen so clearly, conducted the whole service with quiet dignity and his sermon was I felt, the most inspiring I had heard for many years. He truly explained to everyone how important it is to remember and why we should never forget those who had given their all that we may live in the freedom that we enjoy.

  Yes, my memories of being in St Andrews on the 11 November will remain with me for a long time. To lay a wreath on the memorial, the wooden surround for the two brass plaques having made by my father was moving in itself. But then to listen to the names of the Fallen from Wethersfield and Shalford read out by John Shead was even more moving, as my late father who had served in the Great War and was the Chairman of the then Wethersfield and Shalford Branch of the British Legion used himself to stand in the same spot and read out the names.

  May I repeat the words that appeared in all the letters of condolence sent by King George V to the grieving families of those who lost their lives in the Great War.



John Harvey

November 2012