Yorkshire falls silent to honour region’s fallen

AT the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month, Yorkshire fell silent to honour its war dead.

Remembrance services were held across the region yesterday to commemorate fallen servicemen and women from both World Wars and later conflicts.

An extra poignancy was added in remembering the 385 British personnel who have died since operations began in Afghanistan – with the two most recent deaths, both Yorkshire soldiers, taking place in the past week.

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Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, the last colonel of the Duke of Wellington Regiment before it was amalgamated into the Yorkshire Regiment and chief executive of ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity which the Yorkshire Post Christmas Appeal is supporting – said: “It is important that we remember now and for evermore.

“Yorkshire has paid a very heavy price in Afghanistan and I’m sure I hold the view of many people that I just hope it is going to be worthwhile.”

The Major General attended the service at the Cenotaph, where The National Service of Remembrance, led by the Queen, will take place tomorrow.

The silence was particularly poignant for those at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, as they mourned the loss of the latest soldier to die on active service.

Barnsley Territorial army volunteer Private Matthew Thornton, 28, from the 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) while on patrol in Babaji on Wednesday.

He was honoured by the new Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and thousands of troops who took part in a special parade at the vigil site at Camp Bastion.

Private Jack Possnett, 21, from Selby, North Yorkshire, of 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, said: “Having lost a soldier from our regiment it does make the remembrance service more poignant.

“His death has affected everyone in some way and hopefully Remembrance Day will give us a chance to think about it.

“You have to remember all those who have fallen throughout all wars.

“They were someone’s friends, and someone’s family who has lost them, and it’s important that we keep up this kind of remembrance.”

The family of a Whitby soldier killed in Afghanistan were presented with the Elizabeth Cross by the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Lord Crathorne, at a private ceremony in Yarm, to wear during Remembrance Day.

Craftsman Andrew Found, 27, from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers died in an explosion on 16 June 2011 as he assessed damage an IED had already made to a Warthog vehicle.

The vehicle mechanic, who was affectionately known to those in his squadron as ‘Foundy’, was on his second tour of Afghanistan.

Elsewhere, services took place at York railway station, Ripon and Wakefield Cathedrals and the cenotaph in Victoria Gardens in Leeds.

In Rotherham, the town’s mayor, Coun Shaun Wright, led a two-minute silence at an “Act of Remembrance” organised by the Rotherham branch of the Royal British Legion in All Saints’ Square.

Veterans, service families and civic dignitaries were joined by a crowd of hundreds at the war memorial in Paragon Square, Hull.

As a lone bugler played the haunting refrain of The Last Post, they bowed their heads and standard bearers lowered their flags.

The beginning and end of the two minutes of silence were marked by the firing of a rocket maroon in Queens Gardens.

Alan Harvey, Regimental Sergeant Major of 150 (Yorkshire) Transport Regiment (Volunteers), who was at Paragon Square, said: “It’s important we do remember the sacrifices of the past. It’s an honour and a privilege to be here today.”

In a recorded message used at the Royal British Legion ceremony in Trafalgar Square, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “From the trenches of the First World War to the desert of Afghanistan, our Armed Forces have proved time and again that they are the bravest of the brave and the very best of what it means to be British.

“We can never fully repay the debt we owe them.”