Remembrance Sunday

11th November 2012

Remembrance Sunday

Apparently, 1968 was the only year since 1945 that a British Serviceman or woman has not been killed in action. Equally, C&F has many members who are not British by birth. This means that the traditional idea of Remembrance need not focus on the Great War or even the Second World War, but can be an inclusive act that becomes of equal relevance to those thinking of the unrest in Syria and Lebanon or the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

We have been doing a Remembrance Ride for about the last ten years, and in this time it has become a fixture on our riding calendar. Whereas we try to vary the usual diet of ride-outs to include new destinations and routes, the Remembrance Ride has become somewhat ossified. Just for once the reason for the ride, and its destination at the Elstead War Memorial in Surrey, transcends the search for variety. It is also true that the route through rural Surrey does give fabulous views of the Surrey Hills and its autumn colours, but we see this as a welcome bonus.

We meet at John Warr’s HQ, 611 Kings Road SW6. The meeting and briefing has to be earlier than ideal for a November morning, as we need to clear the New Kings Road before the road closures go in for the local Remembrance Parade. There will also be a last minute chance for H.O.G. members to buy a fresh new poppy or contribute to the Chapter whip-round for the Royal British Legion. JW will have ensured that the coffee machine is on and the croissant stock replenished.

Briefing over and tanks filled, we depart surrounded by our own sonic tribute to those lost in war. Every eye on the New Kings Road, Putney Bridge and Putney High Street will turn to watch us go past. Out onto the A3, past Tippetts Corner, that grisly reminder of less civilised times, we will proceed at a steady rumble as far as the M25 turn-off. From then we go cross country to the Parrott Inn at Forest Green where hot coffee and a roaring fire awaits. In the car park at 11am precisely we will observe our two minutes silence. Then we will continue to arrive in due course at Elstead where we will lay a wreath. For the last couple of years we have been honoured to lay the wreath for the Old Contemptibles Association, but with the demise of the Chelsea branch of the RBL this year we will align ourselves with the Elstead Branch.

Proceedings conclude with a suitable reading; a carvery lunch in the local public house (the Mill at Elstead) is already arranged. For many this is the last ride of the year as bikes are laid up in favour of more all-weather transport. It is a fitting climax to what has been an exceptional riding season despite the often dreadful weather, and we end the year by taking the opportunity to remember those whose sacrifice ensured our freedom to ride.

Michael Howers - C&F Road Captain


Remembrance Sunday