Monday, November 12, 2012
It was a hugely moving moment at a Norfolk army base where Remembrance Sunday had extra poignancy as the military family continues to come to terms with the loss of one of its own.
As about 350 members of the Light Dragoons held a service around the memorial at the Robertson Barracks at Swanton Morley, near Dereham, 20,000 poppies were released from a Tiger Moth bi-plane.
The red petals dropped gently to the ground as the soldiers and their families remembered members of the close-knit regiment who have lost their lives in conflicts.
Sgt Lee Davidson was killed in September in Afghanistan and his wife Samantha, their children and his mother Julia laid a wreath in his memory.
He was the one Light Dragoons soldier killed in the 2012 tour.
When the regiment was last in Afghanistan in 2009, six men died. The families of two of them - Trooper Phillip Lawrence and Craftsman Anthony Lombardi - were also present at the commemorations on Sunday lunchtime.
Commanding officer Lt Col Sam Plant said: “We are a real family regiment and we particularly welcome the Davidson, Lawrence and Lombardi families. It means so much to us all.”
He stressed that the soldiers were professionals who put their lives on the line to serve the nation.
But he added: “No amount of training and practice can ever prepare us for the pain of the loss of one of our own,”
The names of the all Light Dragoons on the roll of honour were read out and Lt Col Plant said: “This is why we take time now to remember those great names on this memorial.”
He also thanked the regimental family.
“We never underestimate the enormous challenge you face when we are on operations. It is your strength and support and sense of community which nourishes so much. Your presence means the world to us.”
The Tiger Moth was flown by Henry Labouchere and the poppies were released by L/Cpl Rhino Groenwald.
During the act of remembrance, Cpl Bob Goulding played the Last Post and Reveille on the bugle.
Earlier on Sunday morning, about 350 members of the Light Dragoons - many who had just returned from Afghanistan - marched from the barracks to the parish church for a Remembrance Day service.
Lt Harry Amos said: “For the last three years we have been away on Remembrance Day, so it is lovely to integrate again with the village. We have a 12 year affiliation with the church.”
Captain Will Davies said the support of local people was hugely appreciated and they were all looking forward to the welcome home parade in Dereham on Wednesday December 5.
“We feel that Norfolk has really embraced us and for a relatively small town to have such a big parade makes us feel really proud.”