The largest turnout for Remembrance Sunday in Devizes for many years assembled at the war memorial at the weekend as wreaths were laid in memory of local people who gave their lives for their country.
More than 1,000 thronged Long Street and the Market Place as representatives of many local organisations paraded to St John’s Church for the annual commemoration of Armistice Day, which this year coincided with Remembrance Sunday.
Town mayor Coun Kelvin Nash reviewed the parade before they marched off, led by the Wyvern Band, on the short trip to the church.
Among the VIPs attending were Claire Perry MP, Judge John McNaught, Deputy Lord Lieutenant David Scott and Chief Constable Pat Geenty.
There was standing room only in St John’s Church for the service of commemoration. The Rev John Goodman, chaplain of the Devizes branch of the Royal British Legion, read the Exhortation before Mayor Nash, a member of Devizes Town Band, sounded Last Post on the trumpet.
Following the two-minute silence, Mrs Perry read from Micah verses four and five, referring to beating swords into plougshares before Canon Paul Richardson, vicar of St John’s and St Mary’s, delivered the sermon. He talked of the tragedy of conflict and how it affects families, speaking about Victorian writer Rudyard Kipling and how his often jingoistic writing changed noticeably after his son John died during the First World War.
Kipling was racked with guilt as he had urged his son to enlist, although poor eyesight would have got him a deferral. Canon Richardson said: “Kipling’s story is shared by too many families whose sons and daughters have been killed or maimed in so many conflicts since.”
At the wreath laying ceremony, witnessed by hundreds of onlookers, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant laid the first tribute, followed by Coun Nash, Mrs Perry and then representatives of the RBL, the Army, police, ambulance and fire brigade, St John Ambulance, Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies and the NHS.
For the first time this year local schools laid their own home-made wreaths, including Wansdyke Primary School and the four houses of Devizes School.
The Wyvern Band led the procession back into the Market Place, with the Mayor taking the salute at the Chequers Gardens.