Remembrance Sunday, Glorious Dead Cenotaph, Kolkata
Glorious Dead Cenotaph, Kolkata
In Remembering the terrible cost of the war, let us all work for peace and peaceful resolution of our difference.
Bruce Buckmell. British Deputy High Commissioner, Kolkata
The First World War (WWI), which was the known as the Great War of 1914 – 18, ended on 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year ie: 11:00 am of 11 Nov, 1918.
A year later in 1919 King George V inaugurated the first commemoration of the end of the Great War of 1914 – 18, which was subsequently observed by all Commonwealth Nations and came to be known as Armistice Day.
Post Second World War (WWII), most of the commonwealth nations, including Great Britain, moved the Armistice Day events nearest Sunday of 11th November or the second Sunday of November.
It adopted the name of Remembrance Day or Remembrance Sunday and was observed to honour the fallen soldiers of World War I and World War II.
Today Remembrance Sunday is observed throughout the commonwealth nations to remember the fallen soldiers of the two world wars and subsequent conflicts.
Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, once the second city of the mighty British Empire is no exception. In Kolkata the Remembrance Sunday is observed at the Glorious Dead Cenotaph in the Maidan, followed by a service at the St. John’s Church in the evening.
The event at the Glorious Dead Cenotaph is organised by the British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata and was presided over by Bruce Bucknell, British Deputy High Commissioner, Kolkata.
Also present at the cenotaph was Craig Hall, US Consul General, Damien Syed, French Council General, Yasuhiko Tanaka, Japanese Council General, Damiano Francovigh, Consul General of Italy in Kolkata and few other diplomats from other countries.
The West Bengal Government was represented by Bijan Krishna, IAS, under secretary & OSD to Chief Secretary
The dignitaries included ex British diplomat Paul Walsh the founder of Jungle Crows Rugby Club (Also see: Rugby in Kolkata).
Also present was my dear friend and fellow Kolkata enthusiast Anthony Khatchaturian, a former police officer with the Metropolitan Police London.
The representatives of Army, Navy & Air Force and Kolkata Police were also present at the cenotaph.
All those present at the Glorious Dead Cenotaph on the occassion of the Remembrance Day came in with the Remembrance Poppy Batch.
The remembrance poppy is an artificial flower that has been used since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war, and represents a common or field poppy, Papaver rhoeas.
The remembrance poppy was inspired by the World War I poem In Flanders Fields.
It was written by Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, on 3 May 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend, a fellow soldier, the day before.
Its opening lines refer to the many poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the churned-up earth of soldiers’ graves in Flanders, a region of Europe that overlies a part of Belgium.
It is written from the point of view of the dead soldiers and, in the last verse, they call on the living to continue the conflict.
On 13 Nov. 2016, the Remembrance Sunday began just before 11:00 am with a welcome address by Bruce Bucknell, the British Deputy High Commissioner of Kolkata.
His address including the reading of the poem In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row by row,
That Mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns blow
We are the dead. Short Days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields
Take up our quarrel with the foe,
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders field
The speech was followed by the the sounding of the Last Post by the buglers followed by a two minutes silence, which was broken by the sounding of The Rouse by the buglers.
A small contingent of gunners from the Indian Army performed a gun salute, but the guns were not fired.
This was followed by the wreath laying ceremony. One by one the wreath were laid at the base of the Glorious Dead Cenotaph.
The wreath were led down by foreign diplomats, representatives of the army, navy & air forces and police along with other dignitaries.
Most of the wreath consisted of bright red artificial poppy flowers but there were several others with real flowers.
The army band continued to play in the background through out the wreath laying ceremony. Finally a round of tea and refreshment marked the end of the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Glorious Dead Cenotaph, Kolkata.
Poppy Poppy what do you say? Wear me on Remembrance Day
Poppy Poppy what do you tell? Many Soldiers in battle fell
Poppy Poppy what should we know? That peace on earth should grow, grow, grow