Lest we forget: 11/11/18

11/11/18: The significance of the Unknown Soldier

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Brendan Wade shares the history of the Unknown Soldier and the impact it has on us all today and will continue to have centuries to come.

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On November 7, 1920, in strictest secrecy, four unidentified British bodies were exhumed from temporary battlefield cemeteries at Ypres, Arras, the Asine and the Somme. 

None of the soldiers who did the digging were told why. 

The bodies were taken by field ambulance to GHQ at St-Pol-Sur-Ter Noise.

There the bodies were draped with the union flag.

Sentries were posted and Brigadier-General Wyatt and a Colonel Gell selected one body at random.

A French honour guard was selected and stood by the coffin overnight.

On the morning of the 8th, a specially designed coffin made of oak from the grounds of Hampton Court was brought and the unknown warrior placed inside.

On top was placed a crusaders’ sword and a shield on which was inscribed 'a British warrior who fell in the Great War 1914-1918 for king and country'.

On November 9, the unknown warrior was taken by horse-drawn carriage through guards of honour and the sound of tolling bells and bugle calls to the quayside.

There he was saluted by Ferdinand Foch and loaded onto HMS Vernon bound for Dover.

The coffin stood on the deck covered in wreaths and surrounded by the French honour guard.

On arrival at Dover, the unknown warrior was greeted with a 19-gun salute, normally only reserved for field marshals.

He then travelled by special train to Victoria Station, London.

He stayed there overnight and on the morning of November 11, he was taken to Westminster Abbey.

The idea of the unknown warrior was thought of by a Padre called David Railton who had served at the front during the Great War and it was the union flag he used as an altar cloth at the front that had been draped over the coffin.

It was his intention that all relatives of the 517,773 combatants whose bodies had not been identified could believe that the unknown warrior could very well be their lost husband, father, brother or son...

This is the reason we wear our poppies.

We do not glorify war; we remember with humility, the great and ultimate sacrifices that were made not just in this war but every war and conflict where our service personnel have fought to ensure the liberty we now have.

Every year at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we remember the unknown warrior … and all those who have served in any conflict.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

Elders Livestock Sales Manager Paul Holm was in Victoria last week as part of the management team involved in mentoring the next generation of livestock marketing agents. The Elders trainee program this year was held in Wodonga.

Elders Livestock trainees for 2018 with departing National Livestock Manager Chris Howie (front/centre).

Elders Livestock trainees for 2018 with departing National Livestock Manager Chris Howie (front/centre).

As part of the program, the trainees as well as staff who are new to business come together in May and November to learn some of the finer points of agency. The attendees come from all over the country, with Queensland being well represented with staff from Longreach, Townsville, Roma, Biloela and Dalby. The troops hear from senior staff on subjects including wool, EBVs, livestock production, relationship building and even have a bit of time on the race track doing driver training.

This workshop had some special significance, as it was the last one for Elders national livestock manager Chris Howie. Chris retired last week from Elders having spent 30 years with the one company. From a trainee himself the top in the business managing the livestock product is testament to his capability. I know Chris implemented some significant supply chain arrangements for the business that were beneficial to many an Elders client.

Chris had been an integral part of the trainee program with Simone Dand and this success cannot be underestimated as only a couple of weeks ago, Jake Kennedy, Elders Clermont, who was a previous graduate of the program, won the ALPA agency award for 2018. 

Every year at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we remember the unknown warrior … and all those who have served in any conflict.

Every year at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we remember the unknown warrior … and all those who have served in any conflict.

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