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Pte Albert Cheetham’s Grave


The Choir of Holy Trinity Church, Dartford and Tracey McRory, the Irish violinist. The audience was enthralled; the concert started with Mars, Bringer of War being played whilst on the big screen was shown a film of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the mobilisation of the various armies which followed this event. Besides the sombre nature of the proceedings, the Cathedral rang out with such great songs as Jerusalem, Amazing Grace, Danny Boy, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Mademoiselle from Armentières (the clean version), Pack up Your Troubles, Over There, Keep the Home Fires Burning and other Classical interludes. This will most probably be a regular feature of future trips.


Laying a wreath at Pte Albert Cheetham’s grave


Support for the MOD Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court, Epsom


Maj Tulloch pays his respects


edition of the Mercian Eagle concerning the donation of Sgt Fred Cheetham’s Mandolin to the Robin Hood Rifles Club and the fruitless search for his brother Albert’s grave, members of the Branch were going on their annual pilgrimage to the Remembrance Day Parade at the Menin Gate, Ypres, and asked the tour guide if we could complete the task and lay a wreath on Albert’s grave at the Lindenhoek Chalet Military Cemetery at Kemmel. The task was completed by members of the Branch, with the laying of the wreath and act of homage being recited by Capt Eric Searcey, Honorary Branch President. Also, we visited the Hooge Crater Military Cemetery, the Track X Military Cemetery, where a wreath was planted on a randomly-chosen grave of a Sherwood Forester, and we attended the 2000 hours ceremony at the Menin Gate on the three nights we were there. Before our return, we called at the Trenches of Death at Dixmude, where the Belgians faced the German forces either side of the Ijzer River; the area north of here to the coast was flooded to stop the German advance and you can stroll through


The Mercian Eagle Members at the Menin Gate


about 300 meters of preserved trenches after viewing the museum at the entrance.


After the Remembrance Day Parade, members attended a musical evocation of the different facets of WW1 in St Nicholas Cathedral entitled “The Great War Remembered”. This is a relatively new event being only the fifth year it had taken place, with a giant screen, a vast array of musicians and choirs and including The Royal Band of the Belgian Navy, combined Fire & Rescue Service Bands – Devon & Somerset, Tyne & Wear, and the West Midlands, Buglers of the Last Post Association, The Royal St Nicholas Male Voice Choir, The Bruges Male Voice Choir,


After donating £200 to the Help for Heroes Appeal, The Branch took a decision to make a trip to the Ministry of Defence Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court near Epsom as a show of support and to demonstrate that we not only cared for their welfare by donating items but were willing to go down and visit them to boost their morale. Mrs Sue Bell, Secretary of the Forester Malaya Veterans’ Association, contacted Headley Court to see what was most required by the residents - soap powder was one item needed desperately! Approaches were made to Boots, who donated £6000’s worth of goods, Branch members made donations and boxes were also put out at the Broad Marsh Bus Depot, Nottingham. A bus was hired and seven members and a guest embarked for Epsom. On arrival, we were given a guided tour of the facilities by Major Alan McKay, the Senior Nursing Officer, who explained how each individual was assessed on arrival and a programme worked out tailored to improve his/her physical, as well as psychological, well-being. They were not considered as patients but as serving soldiers, having responsibility for there own bed space and having to do their own washing etc. We left the place well impressed with the care being given to often very young men with horrendous psychological as well as physical injuries. The Branch established that there was a welfare fund especially for the patients and, at the following Branch Meeting, a vote was passed to make this our chosen charity. Other trips are being planned for the future.


October 2009 147


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