Sunday, 9 November 2008

The Cenotaph, City Hall, Belfast

I attended the remembrance ceremony at City Hall in Belfast this morning. It was a bitterly cold 6c, particularly if standing in a stationary position! It was claimed that up to one thousand people were there, an estimate I cannot verify since I was in the middle of it all. Certainly there were hundreds there.

It was the best parade I have seen in Belfast for a long time. The band and a platoon of the Royal Irish Regiment were on duty; and three helicopters flew past at eleven o'clock.

There were, as usual, senior officers representing the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force; and other various civil dignitaries. The General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland, Major-General Chris Brown, CBE, was the most senior officer in attendance.

It's curious that, whilst it is traditional for participants at the London ceremony to wear overcoats and great-coats, the dignitaries at the Belfast occasion are presumably a hardier lot; since most of them only wear jackets and tunics instead! I always thought this strange, given that Belfast is so much further north than the metropolis.


Mick_Stella said...

Reason for the lack of overcoats is that these are not "Standard Issue" and yes even senior officers have to pay for these items out of their own pockets. Presumably, those attending the televised event in London with the Queen present are prepared or obliged to go to this expense.

Timothy Belmont said...

That explains it. Much obliged for that! And it explains why my father never had an army great-coat too.


John Self said...

I am currently reading Geoff Dyer's book The Missing of the Somme which of course I was inspired to do by the recent 90th anniversary of Armistice.

It's an exceptional book and well worth your time. I picked up a copy in Eason in Belfast a few years ago (I am actually re-reading it) but it can probably only be obtained online these days.

I have a habit of marking notable passages in the margin when reading a book, and this has two or three pencil marks on every page. One of the extraordinary things he discusses is how Laurence Binyon's famous For the Fallen -

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

- was written in 1914, before the fallen actually fell. It is as much an anticipation of what was to come, as a remembrance of it.