The Chelsea Pensioners remember

11th November 2021

After the restrictions last year, the Royal Hospital today commemorated Remembrance with a Drumhead Ceremony on figure court. Chelsea Pensioners will also be attending the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 13 November, where they will march past Her Majesty the Queen. The following day, Chelsea Pensioners will parade past the Cenotaph, with the more able-bodied veterans pushing their frailer comrades in wheelchairs. 

In addition, Pensioners are looking forward to participating in a number of events and activities around the country – from selling poppies in Chelsea, to commemorating Remembrance with their former regiments. The Royal Hospital’s Chaplain will also lead our own Remembrance service in the Wren Chapel – where a Book of Remembrance records the Chelsea Pensioners who have departed on their final posting. 

Whether they remain quietly at the Royal Hospital, or take part further afield, the Chelsea Pensioners will be united in reflection as they remember those they have lost. 

“What Remembrance means to me” 

ALAN says it doesn’t matter where you are 

“Remembrance means a lot. I was 25 years in the Scots Guards. I volunteered in 1944 and served in Malaya, the Far East and the Middle East during World War II. Some of my dear friends were lost and I think of them. I’m 98 and there’s not many of us left now. In my first year here, I was at the Albert Hall and they mentioned me as the oldest Pensioner on parade – I was 89 then. My family were in tears. This year I’ll be here. We’ll have a service and I’ll think of my friends. It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s what you’re thinking.” 

MARJORIE says it’s a holy day that should be respected 

“It’s a day for remembering all those who have gone before – not just Forces, but family too. It’s a holy day that should be respected. I’ve been to the Royal Albert Hall in the past – it was such an honour. I was nervous but very proud. I was marching for those who died in the World Wars and those who are still giving their lives now. 

This year, me and another Pensioner will be going to the Remembrance service in Pond Street Church with the children from Knightsbridge School. The day before I’ll be at Garden House School for their service. It’s important we don’t forget. They’re still finding the remains of pilots 

who lost their lives in Belgium and France. The saying “for your tomorrow we gave our today” is so true. It’s the price they paid. When we sing hymns like I Vow to Thee my Country it brings tears to my eyes.” 

Ray Petrie - Chelsea Pensioner
RAY will be thinking of the people he’s lost 

“At Remembrance I think of my father. He was lost at sea during the war. It means a lot to me. It’s magic that so many people are remembering at the same time. I was going to walk with the West Indian Regiment, but my legs aren’t up to it. I’ll be here, thinking about the people I’ve lost.” 

TREVOR will remember his friend who was killed in Korea 

“My friend in the Army was killed on the day I was wounded in Korea – 19 October 1952. He’s buried in the UN cemetery in Bhusan. I went out there in 2008 – it means a lot to me. I was wounded by a mortar bomb and there were about 80 pieces of shrapnel in my arms, head, knees, everywhere. I remember turning and taking a step and then I collapsed because I’d lost a lot of blood. I didn’t know anything until I woke up briefly on a stretcher outside a helicopter. Then I was sent to a tented hospital before being flown to what had been a Japanese naval hospital in the port of Kuri and then to a rehabilitation centre in Japan. 

I’m Welsh and was originally in the Welsh regiment before transferring to the Kings, Liverpool. The Welsh are commemorating Remembrance in St David’s Hall in Cardiff. I’ll be going with another Pensioner. It’s true what they say, you don’t forget. I never go a week without remembering.” 

ROY says it’s about future peace as well as the past 

"I’ll be going on the Remembrance Parade with the Royal Pioneer Corps and to the Field of Remembrance at Westminster. I’ve written a poem on Remembrance that begins: ‘Remembrance Day is not just for soldiers of the past. It is to pray that future peace will last."

RICK remembers his father who was a Chelsea Pensioner too 

“I remember my dad, who was also a Chelsea Pensioner and one of the last out at Dunkirk. At the battle of El Alamein he was bayoneted and left for dead on a railway line – some Canadians from the Desert Rats rescued him.” 

WILLIE says if they hadn’t died, we wouldn’t be here 

“Remembrance is important. I was a soldier for nine years with the Royal Irish Fusiliers and 13 and a half years with the Royal Irish Rangers. I was in Aden – it was good luck we didn’t lose anyone. At Remembrance I think of everybody who died. If they hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here. As a schoolboy, I remember seeing soldiers at the railway station, going to Korea and I had a few 

mates who were killed by the IRA. We can’t bring them back, so we have to remember them. I’ll be at a memorial service on the 12th." 

Carol Knight - Chelsea Pensioner
CAROL has always stopped and remembered 

“Remembrance is important because it’s history. these people should be remembered by the Nation because they gave their lives. As a soldier we normally had a church parade and at 11 o’clock you’d stand still and honour it that way. Throughout my life I always stopped and remembered it, we were taught to by my father, who was in the Army too. Most people will stand and be quiet for the silence. It’s respectful. In railway stations, bus stations, shops and supermarkets people stop and remember. 

This year I’m going to the Royal Albert Hall and the Cenotaph. I feel extremely proud. I watch it every time on TV and it feels amazing to be part of it. A lot of these guys lost friends, brothers – I’m one of the lucky ones. I wouldn’t be here if Dad hadn’t come back. He was at El Alamein, one of the original Desert Rats. I’ll be thinking of him at Remembrance. I’ll have his cross in my pocket with his regimental badge on it. When I arrived here, my daughter bought me a lovely rose bush and one of the Pensioners who grows roses on the allotments planted it for me. I’ll put the cross just by it afterwards.”

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