Spirit of England - Introduction

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012


'Into my heart an air that kills 
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills, 
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content, 
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went 
And cannot come again.'

A E Housman
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012


'Now in thy splendor go before us,
Spirit of England, ardent eyed,
Enkindle this dear earth that bore us,
In the hour of peril purified

The cares we hugged drop out of vision,
Our hearts with deeper thoughts dilate.
We step from days of sour division
Into grandeur of our fate.

For us the glorious dead have striven,
They battled that we might be free.
We to their living cause are given;
We arm for men that are to be.

Among the nations nobliest chartered,
England recalls her heritage,
In her is that which is not bartered,
Which force can neither quell nor cage.

For her immortal star are burning;
With her, the hope that's never done,
The seed that's in the Spring's returning,
The very flower that seeks the sun.'

Laurence Binyon
 (10 August 1869 – 10 March 1943)

click below

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012


'Solemn the drums thrill; Death, august and royal 
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres, 
There is music in the midst of desolation, 
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

But where our desires are - and our hopes profound, 
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, 
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known 
As the stars are known to the Night; 

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, 
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; 
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, 
To the end, to the end, they remain.'

'FOR THE FALLEN' - 2012'
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

'The Passing of the Unknown Warrior - 11 November 1920'

'The Burial of the Unknown Warrior, Westminster Abbey, 1920'

The British tomb of The Unknown Warrior holds an unidentified British soldier killed on a European battlefield during the First World War.
He was buried in Westminster Abbey, London on 11 November 1920.
The idea of a 'Tomb of the Unknown Warrior' was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton, who, while serving as an army chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the pencil-written legend 'An Unknown British Soldier'.
He wrote to the Dean of Westminster in 1920 proposing that an unidentified British soldier from the battlefields in France be buried with due ceremony in Westminster Abbey 'amongst the kings' to represent the many hundreds of thousands of Empire dead.
The idea was strongly supported by the Dean, and the then Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
Arrangements were placed in the hands of Lord Curzon of Kedleston, who prepared in committee the service and location.
Suitable remains were exhumed from various battlefields and brought to the chapel at Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise near Arras, France on the night of 7 November 1920.
The bodies were received by the Reverend George Kendall OBE.
Brigadier L.J. Wyatt and Lieutenant Colonel E.A.S. Gell of the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries went into the chapel alone.
The remains were then placed in six plain coffins each covered by Union Flags: the two officers did not know from which battlefield any individual soldier had come.
Brigadier Wyatt with closed eyes rested his hand on one of the coffins. 
The coffin of the 'unknown warrior' then stayed at the chapel overnight, and on the afternoon of 8 November, it was transferred under guard, and escorted by Kendall, to the medieval castle within the ancient citadel at Boulogne.
For the occasion, the castle library was transformed into a 'chapelle ardente': a company from the French 8th Infantry Regiment, recently awarded the Légion d'Honneur en masse, stood vigil overnight.
The following morning, two undertakers entered the castle library and placed the coffin into a casket of the oak timbers of trees from Hampton Court Palace.
The casket was banded with iron, and a medieval crusader's sword chosen by the King personally, from the Royal Collection, was affixed to the top, and surmounted by an iron shield bearing the inscription 'A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914–1918 for King and Country'.
At 10.30 am, all the church bells of Boulogne tolled; the massed trumpets of the French cavalry and the bugles of the French infantry played the French 'Last Post'.
Then, the mile-long procession made its way down to the harbour.
At the quayside, Marshal Foch saluted the casket before it was carried up the gangway of the destroyer, 'HMS Verdun', and piped aboard with an admiral's call.
The 'Verdun' slipped anchor just before noon and was joined by an escort of six battleships.
As the flotilla carrying the casket closed on Dover Castle it received a 19-gun Field Marshal's salute. 
It was landed at Dover Marine Railway Station at the Western Docks on 10 November.
The body of the 'Unknown Warrior' was carried to London's Victoria Station, where it arrived at platform 8 at 8.32 pm that evening and remained overnight.
On the morning of 11 November 1920, the casket was placed onto a gun carriage of the Royal Horse Artillery and drawn by six horses through immense and silent crowds.
As the cortege set off, a further Field Marshal's salute was fired in Hyde Park.
The route followed was Hyde Park Corner, The Mall, and to Whitehall where the Cenotaph, a 'symbolic empty tomb', designed by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, was unveiled by King-Emperor George V. 
The cortège was then followed by the King, the Royal Family and ministers of state to Westminster Abbey, where the casket was borne into the West Nave of the Abbey.
The coffin was then interred in the far western end of the Nave, only a few feet from the entrance, in soil brought from each of the main battlefields, and covered with a silk pall.
Servicemen from the armed forces stood guard as tens of thousands of mourners filed silently past.
The grave was then capped with a black marble stone (the only tombstone in the Abbey on which it is forbidden to walk) featuring this inscription, composed by Herbert Edward Ryle, Dean of Westminster, engraved with brass from melted down wartime ammunition:

'They buried him among the kings because he
Had done good toward God and toward
His house'

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

The Cenotaph - London

No comments:

Post a Comment