On May 8, 1945, German forces occupying the Channel Islands announced that the war was over. That afternoon, Winston Churchill broadcast these words to the Islands: “Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight, but in the interests of saving lives the “Cease fire” began yesterday to be sounded all along the front, and our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today. ”
Visiting Jersey and Guernsey as a boy, I remember the breathtaking beauty of the islands, but being horrified, seeing the preserved fortifications and museums, and learning of the savage brutality that took place. We must never forget, these commemorations are all important.
This and other early memories remained embedded in my memory, so attending the Tower of London’s Chapel Royal weekly, it brought back this need to honour and remember Forces Veterans and today’s Armed Forces. Veterans are welcomed and respected when they visit the Tower, and Yeoman Warders (themselves ex Services) make time to chat and share anecdotes. The Chapel Royal congregation regularly shares its services with veteran associations and the Broadwalk is used as a parade ground on many occasions each year.
The Tower is a great bastion for preservation of these ideals and one of its greatest achievements was hosting and bringing together the phenomenal ‘Poppies In The Moat’ sculpture, with 888246 poppies representing all the British fallen in the 1st World War. I was privileged to write the only full account of how this was achieved, and it’s included in my book ‘Poppies Pomp And People,’ about the Tower of London today- profits will go to Service Charities.