Celebrated Leighton Buzzard veteran Walter ‘Wally’ Randall was among the thousands of people who turned on Sunday out to remember all those who fell serving their country in conflicts foreign and domestic.
The annual Remembrance Day parade had special significance this year as it marked the end of the First World War - also known as ‘the war to end all wars’.
The parade marched off from the Market Cross to re-assemble in Church Square, which was packed with spectators of all ages wishing to pay their respects to the fallen.
No doubt many had private memories and thoughts of relatives and stood with heads bowed as a hush descended over the square for the traditional two-minute silence - broken only by the scuttling whisper of dead leaves blown by the brisk breeze.
Wreath-layers included former and serving members of the armed forces, police, civic dignitaries and local youth organisations with Mr Randall, 103, representing the Royal British Legion. Mr Randall was applauded for his attendance and service to the RBL, he is believed to be the nation’s oldest ‘poppy-seller’.
The parade was followed with a service in All Saints Church.
Mark Freeman, chairman of the Remembrance Day Committee, primarily formed to enhance the parade for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, said: “When the parade came out of Lake Street on Sunday morning, into the High Street the sight was amazing.
“To see the huge number of people lining the street brought a lump to my throat.
“Church Square was also very full and by the time the parade had formed up in the Square it was a solid sea of people from the Memorial right back to, and into, the High Street. I don’t know how many people were there, but I am sure they could be counted in thousands rather than hundreds.”
Mr Freeman also organised/co-ordinated most of the other events taking place through the day, and added: “The ceremony at Linslade Memorial also saw huge numbers of people attending, and people of all ages packed into the Memorial Garden to remember the fallen of Linslade.
“Mike Moran led a group of about 50 people on an illustrated walk highlighting the part our town played in World War 1.
“During the afternoon a very full Royal British Legion Club hosted accordionist Mike Ruff who accompanied himself whilst singing a selection of World War 1 songs. Many of the favourites had the audience singing along with him.
“The day of events came to a close with the Lights On ceremony in Church Square where a crowd in excess of 500 heard the names of the men of Leighton Buzzard and Linslade who gave their lives in WW1 read out.
“The names were read by the Town Mayor, past Mayors, representatives of All Saints Church, Hockliffe Street Baptist Church, TACTIC Youth Form and the RBL Club together with the Chairman and President of the RBL Leighton Buzzard Branch.
“The Exhortation was read by Taylor Lapworth and the Kohima by Georgia Crossingham, both from TACTIC Youth Forum and the Last Post and Reveille were played by Theo Jackson from Leighton-Linslade Music Centre.
“Prayers were led by Rev Max Bayliss. The ceremony was closed with the beacon being lit as part of the national ‘WW1 Beacons of Light’, the Town Crier delivering the international ‘Cry for Peace around the World’ and the church bells ringing out, as happened at churches across the country.
“I am both proud and humbled to be associated with events that showed what a tremendous community we live in. Our townspeople, old and young, showed that the sacrifices of our forebears is not, and never will be forgotten.
“My thanks to all who contributed, especially our Parade Master George Compton and his assistants from the Remembrance Day Committee, Rev Max Bayliss and Rev Bernard Minton, Mike Moran, the Royal British Legion Branch Committee and the RBL Club and Leighton-Linslade Town Council. The biggest thanks though must be to the people of Leighton Buzzard and Linslade.”
George Compton, Royal British Legion branch chairman and parade marshall, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone from the Leighton Buzzard area who turned out and took part in the parade.
“The size of the members of the uniformed and non-uniformed groups and the vast amount of spectators made this parade even larger than last year, so much so that Church Square to the shops at the junction of Bridge street was packed solid.
“I would also like to thank the parade committee who without there it would have been difficult controlling the number and size of the parade.
“The parade was attended again this year by Mr Wally Randall who is 103 and did not need a wheelchair to get to the square and take part laying a wreath.”