The Royal Hospital Chelsea joined with the Royal Parks at Brompton Cemetery on Wednesday, as part of the 2018 armistice commemorations, to dedicate a recently refurbished memorial in tribute to the 2,625 Pensioners buried in the cemetary.
Edmund Joseph Buisseret – the father of Chelsea Pensioner, Simon De Buisseret – had just joined a monastery in the sleepy town of Hereford, when the First World War broke out. His two older brothers joined the chaplaincy, but as Edmund was only a novice, he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery and was immediately uprooted from his quiet existence as a prospective monk and sent to the Somme.
Chelsea Pensioner, Steve Lovelock, lost his father in the Second World War, leaving his young mother with the difficult task of bringing up a small child alone. Unable to cope with the pressures of single parenthood, Steve’s grandparents stepped in to care for the young child.
The Chelsea Pensioners enjoyed a musical performance at the Royal Hospital Chelsea today as The Band and Corps of Drums of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment performed a mini concert in Figure Court.
In 1945, when an 18 year old Helen Andrews was told by the Army – “don’t tell a soul where you’ve been” – she followed their orders to the letter. It wasn’t until 70 years later, that Helen was finally happy to share the story about her involvement in the Second World War, her time at Bletchley Park, codebreaking and the Enigma machine.
Chelsea Pensioner Jim Little completed a stomach-churning ride in a TR9 Spitfire, originally built in 1944, in memory of his brother who was an RAF spitfire pilot in the latter stages of the Second World War. Jim's brother was only 17 years of age when he joined up in 1941.
According to Government figures, around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month. John experienced intense loneliness when his wife passed away and tells us how he learnt to overcome his feelings of social isolation.
Friends of the Royal Hospital Chelsea were joined by members of the Anglo-Portuguese Society for a fascinating lecture on Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese princess who became wife of King Charles II and Queen of England.