On Monday November 11, Haywards Heath Twinning Association represented Haywards Heath at our twin town, Bondues, at their ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, at the town’s usual Armistice and Remembrance Day commemorations.
The twinning representatives had attended Haywards Heath’s Remembrance service at Muster Green on Sunday 9th November, and took with them, by courtesy of the Guides, Scouts, and the Church of the Ascension, a standard of the Union Flag and carrying holster, to be used in the events and the procession. They also took with them a number of small wooden British Legion crosses, and a poppy wreath to be placed on the graves of the 11 British soldiers buried in the cemetery at Bondues – 10 named, and one unknown. The wreath was laid by the Twinning Association Chairman, Fred Bone.
On Monday 10th the group were taken to Tyne Cot, near Passchendale. Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world, and this proved to be a sobering experience, viewed as the light began to fade. The crowds of visitors there were from many countries, and crosses, flowers, messages and small flags had been left at some graves.
This was followed by a visit to Ypres and the Menin Gate, as evening drew in. This town, in common with so many others, was razed to the ground during the conflicts, then later completely re-built. The walls of the Gate bear the names of the fallen, listed by regiment; nearby is a small garden, which was filled with large British Legion poppies, each representing a named soldier – an emotional visit.
The Bondues ceremony began on November 11th with speeches from the Mayor and other dignitaries, the lighting of the eternal flame by an ex-Resistance member, helped by a child, and the laying of wreaths by the Mayor and representatives of other town associations.
Bondues includes in their ceremony the section where 11 English soldiers are buried, in a single line of 11 white graves, tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The dates of death show that these men all died during engagements leading to the evacuation to Dunkirk.
A pipers lament was played, followed by God Save the Queen. Under the Union Flag, flying from the flagpole by the graves, which each bore French and British flags, children laid flowers, as each soldiers’ name was read out.
Our wreath was laid by Twinning Association Chairman, Fred Bone, then each twinning representative laid small wooden crosses at the graves. The Last Post was played, and we read out the exhortation, “They shall grow not old...”. As promised in the exhortation, our soldiers have not been forgotten by us or the French.#
Report and picture contributed by Fred Bone (HHTA Chairman).