THE centenary of the signing of the Armistice in November 1918 may have passed but the intervening time has given Redditch resident George Atkinson a chance to reflect on his day at the Cenotaph in London where he took party in the ‘Nation’s Thank You’ march.
George, who lives in Mason Road with his wife Pat, said: “My father was almost 60 when I was born in 1948 so he was an ‘Old Dad’.
“He and my mother parted when I was around five and unusually I stayed with my father living in a dingy basement flat in Hove.
“He served with the King’s Royal Rifles in the First World War.
“His brother was in the Durham Light Infantry but was sadly killed.
“My father told me of the pals he had made and lost during the war – never too graphic but it made me very aware of the horrors of 1914/1918.
“When I was notified that there was to be a lottery for places in the Nation’s Thank You march past at the Cenotaph on November 11, 2018 to mark the First World War’s Centenary of the Armistice I entered with no real hope of selection.
“Imagine my surprise when in mid August I was notified that I was one of the lucky 10,000!”
George found the entire day planned with military precision.
The father of three stayed the night before at Teddington and with his family’s WW1 medals polished up took the train to Waterloo.
He was offered a free taxi in a 1933 Austin ‘Poppy Cab’ laid on for veterans and was dropped at Trafalgar Square.
On arrival he was provided with a bottle of water, issued with a wristband, given a special commemorative badge and then an Order of Service.
“On joining the column I was encouraged to have as much free tea, coffee and pastries as I fancied and there was also plenty of handy loos – excellent,” said George.
“Once at the Cenotaph I was both pleased and proud to remember my Dear Old Dad and his brother and thought of the countless thousands who sacrificed everything for their country.
“Past the Cenotaph, because of the tight security, the column had to stroll almost up to Buckingham Palace where we said our farewells and said we would meet again for the 200th anniversary!
“Truly a day to Remember.
“Just to cap my month off I was delighted to be notified that I had been made an Honorary Member of the British Ballet Organisation for whom my father was the musical adviser from its inception in 1930 until his death.