The sky was bright but grey on the drive to Sutton Road for 9am. Although I understood that there was quite a bit of work to get through before we could had our poppies over to small hands – I knew we’d get the task done. Our main job was to remove the wire which had held our lovely hand made clay poppies in place for the Poppy Installation on Southend seafront in November and which now had become twisted and did a very good impression of barbed wire! So with gloves on and wire cutters in hand we set to work.
Come 10:30 when our friends from the Essex Society for Family History, members of the Royal Artillery Association, representatives from the Leigh-on-Sea branch of the Royal British Legion, Artist in Residence from Belfairs Academy, Burial Services Team, Southend Borough Council, the brilliant staff and children from the St Christopher School and our wonderful bugler Barry Nunn turned up for the event we had 500 child safe poppies ready to be laid in tribute to the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.
There are apparently 283 Commonwealth War Graves in Sutton Road Cemetery, with 129 from the 28th October 1914 to 4th January 1921 – who said people stopped dying on the 11th of the 11th? On our trip through the huge site we found many other men, women and children from the time who didn’t have the very recognisable CWGC headstone, but who had also made the ultimate sacrifice during that time. We tried to place at least one poppy on all of the graves we found and hopefully we did pretty well in finding most of those 129 tooth like headstones.
The children were all very interested in the history of the people who were buried at Sutton Road Cemetery and the looking at the memorials and reading the inscriptions made us late for the dedication – I received phone calls at both home and my mobile phone before we made it back to the chapel! It was a moving dedication, with the Last Post from Barry Nunn, a minute’s silence for the fallen, the Exhortation and a short blessing.
There are times when hard work and getting sharp things in your hands is really worth it and this was certainly one of those days.