Exmouth remembers the fallen

PUBLISHED: 16:33 15 November 2010 | UPDATED: 16:51 15 November 2010

THE indomitable spirit of Exmouth shone through when despite high winds, driving rain and falling temperatures 3,000 people crammed into the unfinished Strand Gardens and laid 150 wreaths at the town’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

THE indomitable spirit of Exmouth shone through when despite high winds, driving rain and falling temperatures 3,000 people crammed into the unfinished Strand Gardens and laid 150 wreaths at the town’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

There were similar scenes at memorials in Woodbury and Lympstone while in Exmouth, a solemn, dignified parade marched from The Manor Gardens to The Strand Gardens and held a two-minute silence before laying the wreaths, 80 of which were laid by children.

MP and Northern Ireland Minister Hugo Swire, Mayor Darryl Nicholas and chairman of the district council Graham Liverton were among the guests.

For the first time the fire and police cadets took part as did representatives of the Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest Regiment in the British Army, and the families of some of the fallen.

These included Jack Sadler, father of trooper Ian Sadler, and Leona Walker, wife of Corporal Steve ‘Whisky’ Walker.

Mrs Walker, her husband’s comrades from 40 Commando and on behalf of the Royal Navy Surgeon Lieutenant JJ Reilly also laid wreaths.

And, in another first, three trumpeters sounded simultaneously and the rockets returned, sounding before and after the two minute silence.

While the Community College sung a moving rendition of ‘Let there be Peace on Earth.’

But sadly the rain made the speakers unusable, and the promised wood chippings over the to-be landscaped area of the new Strand didn’t materialise forcing scores to people to stand in slippery mud.

But as one stoic onlooker told organiser Tom Harvey-May: “In the Great War soldiers were living waist-deep in mud for weeks on end.

“A bit of mud is nothing.”

Much of the area earmarked for the service was still cordoned off forcing crowds of people along the pavements as far as the Powder Monkey.

Mr Harvey-May said: “The support of the people of Exmouth continues to astound me.

“The only thing that could be heard with any clarity was ‘Let There Be Peace on Earth.

“It was nice that Hugo Swire made the effort to attend – with his ministerial responsibilities he could have either attended the service in Northern Ireland or at the Cenotaph in Whitehall but instead he chose to come here.”

Three injured servicemen, including two amputees, journeyed especially from the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court in Surrey and were spotted in the crowds.

But they remained low key, preferring to sit in dignified silence to mourn the loss of their comrades.

The cold got to three young people including a cadet who fainted but were treated by Lt. Reilly.

But what could have been a disaster, said Mr Harvey-May, was instead replaced by the steadfast spirit of the town.

He said: “It was enough for many just to be there.”

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