14th November 2014 Skopje, North Macedonia

We will remember them

Remembrance is a hugely significant event for the British people and particularly poignant for members of Her Majesty’s armed forces.  This year I joined the British Ambassador, Mr Charles Garrett at a service at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Skopje. We were joined by the Minister of Defence, Dr Zoran Jolevski, representatives of the Armed Forces of Macedonia, and Ambassadors and representatives of the international community. It was good to see members of our British community present.

In addition to the numerous wreaths, a bouquet of flowers had been placed on the headstone of Cpl Amos Culpin. The words of his descents remembering the ‘grandfather and great grandfather whom we never knew, but to whom we owe so much for his sacrifice’ were moving.

This year starts a succession of 100th anniversaries. In October saw the impressive display of ceramic poppies in the moat of the Tower of London.  Here in the Republic of Macedonia in ‘Football Remembers’ we will recall the so called ‘Christmas football match’ of 12 December 1914 played between opposing troops in no-man’s land during a lull in battle. We hope for a match in Skopje in early December, played between international diplomats and host nation public sector staff.   We will gradually raise the profile of Remembrance leading up to an event at Dojran in September 2018 when we intend marking the final battle of the Salonika Front.

For those of us still serving we remember friends and colleagues who lost their lives in more recent conflicts. This year is as significant with the majority of British forces now out of Afghanistan: my own Regiment was the last to leave and is now safely home. Two years ago in Helmand Province I remembered two Regimental colleagues killed in action there that year. Five years ago my Remembrance Day was spent in Iraq, 15 years ago in Kosovo, 20 years ago in Northern Ireland and 25 years ago on the border of the former East and West Germany, 3 days after witnessing the jubilant faces transiting westwards through Checkpoint Alpha near Helmstedt. Recalling shared Commonwealth losses, 30 years ago I spent Remembrance in New Zealand whilst serving there on exchange. Reflecting on this reinforced to me the significance and poignancy of the act of Remembrance.

‘Lest we forget’

Lt Col Richard Parry,

1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards

Defence Attaché, British Embassy Skopje

Lest we forget