Messages of Remembrance

7th November 2020

As we approach Armistice Day on 11th November, we share messages of remembrance from the Governor of the Royal Hospital and the Chelsea Pensioners attending the Cenotaph. 

Governor Sir General Adrian Bradshaw, KCB OBE DL
"At Remembrance, we think of the sacrifice that people have made before us in the service of our country, for the freedom that we enjoy and we think of those that have lost their lives and have been injured and whose families have suffered loss. But we also think, during this period of lockdown, about the long periods of incarceration that people have suffered in prisoner of war camps and reflect that whilst our lives may be difficult during this time, many of us have the comfort of home and family to fall back on as they did not. And we reflect on the good things that we enjoy as a result of the sacrifices they made in the past. 

As the uniformed representatives of Britain’s Army veteran community, the Chelsea Pensioners at the Royal Hospital will be doing their bit to mark this Remembrance tide during lockdown. Although we will be doing things privately, we will still be commemorating Remembrance in our own way –  thinking of  the sacrifice of those that have gone before us and paying our respects to them. We are sorry we can’t invite members of the public in to join us on Remembrance Day as we would normally do. However, having checked that the conditions will be completely safe for them, Chelsea Pensioners will be represented at the Cenotaph commemoration and you will see our veterans in their Scarlets, doing what they do best, representing the wider Army veteran community as they always do so splendidly.”
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE DL, Governor, The Royal Hospital Chelsea 

What Remembrance means to me 

The five Pensioners who attended the Cenotaph this year share their messages of Remembrance.

Chelsea Pensioner John Byrne QVRM, who will be marching at the Cenotaph for the first time this year, said:

“Remembrance Day now is a very personal sombre time indeed. Way back when I was a young junior soldier at Whittington Barracks in 1967, Remembrance Parade was a chore, as I had to bull my boots till I could shave in them and press my uniform till I could cut my fingers on the creases – or that is what my platoon sergeant told me I had to do. However, as time went by, I grew to realise that this time of the year was indeed a very special period when the country put aside their own petty grievances and remembered the men and women who had unselfishly given their lives so that we could live ours. This complete change of thought came about whilst I was serving in Northern Ireland and lost some friends to enemy action. It was then that I fully understood the importance of this small parade that we hold annually, and it is a small parade compared to the enormity of the loss of life in the wars.” 

Chelsea Pensioner Alan Collins marched at the Cenotaph in 2014, and when asked what Remembrance Day means to him, said:

“I feel honoured and privileged to represent the Royal Hospital Chelsea at the Remembrance parade. I am grateful to be able to march this year having caught COVID-19 earlier in the year. It is testament to the hard work and dedication of the doctors and nurses at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and the staff at our own Margaret Thatcher Infirmary that I will be there standing tall and proud at the Cenotaph.” 

Chelsea Pensioner Tom Metcalfe, when asked what this year’s Cenotaph parade will mean to him, said:

“I feel very honoured and privileged to be selected for this year’s Cenotaph parade. It is especially relevant this year as the COVID-19 virus is taking lives on a scale that large wars do.” 

Chelsea Pensioner Monica Parrott, who has marched at the Cenotaph with the Women’s Royal Army Corps Association in previous years, said:

“I feel so honoured to be amongst the other veterans at the Cenotaph this year. The number of people who are missing this annual pilgrimage must be so disappointed and saddened that they cannot be here on this special day, to march in respect for their family and friends. I am always emotional on this day of the year, and this year I am even more emotional because of the dreadful situation we are in. I just hope that all those absent will know that the few of us selected to be here, are here for them all.” 

Chelsea Pensioner Jack Frost MBE marched at the Cenotaph many years ago. Asked what Remembrance Day means to him, Jack said:

“[To] acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of all those who have served their country in times of war, and also work for peace in the future. Coming from a military family, this means a lot, as I lost uncles in the war and other family members.” 


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