Holybourne’s Act of Remembrance – Saturday 12th November 2022


An air raid siren rent the air of a crisp warm autumn morning at 1045, before the pipes and drums of the Rose and Thistle Band initiated our annual Remembrance parade.  As a theme for this year, Major Stratta introduced the notion of Service, Community and Remembrance, themes eloquently articulated by the first of two speakers Alan Titchmarsh.  As Deputy Lord Lieutenant, one of the King’s representatives for Hampshire, who better to comment upon on the Royal Jubilee celebrations and the sad passing of our late Monarch?  Alan offered personal reflections on the Queen’s service, the Royal Ascension and a perspective for the future under King Charles III, a generation now being born not knowing what it would be like to live under a Queen.  Amplifying the mood admirably, regaling AH Auden’s poetry with his own love of Holybourne, he observed how fortunate we are to live in the Hampshire Downs and spoke of our stewardship and the need to manage our locale for future generations.

This year denotes the 40th Anniversary of the Falklands War.  Major Stratta introduced a former colleague, Warrant Office Mark Desborough PARA to reflect on the Campaign.  As a young private soldier sailing south with the Task Force on a North Sea ferry MV Norland, Mark was trying to understand where and what the Falklands were!  Eventually ashore with 2 PARA, he watched as the Royal Navy fought air attacks and witnessed the loss of ships in Bomb Alley.  He commented upon fighting at Goose Green and Wireless Ridge, hand to hand combat, the loss of comrades and helping the Welsh Guards ashore after the sinking of the Sir Galahad at Fitzroy.  To process such events on arrival at Port Stanley was a challenge for all.  Interestingly Mark still serves as one of the most senior Warrant Officers in the Army, currently training and preparing soldiers for conflict potential in Ukraine.  This is in contrast to when he, with Maj Stratta’s company parachuted into Ukraine in 1997 as part of a NATO Partnership for Peace exchange.  Following a career in the vanguard of war, Mark emphasized the effect of and need for local Remembrance events, these being almost as important as the central focus at the Cenotaph.

The parade stood silent for Revd Andrew Micklefield to offer his direction and prayers to guide our thoughts.  We are grateful for our Civic and Serving leaders for attending and representing us during such testing times.  Captain John Fitzpatrick RN delivered the Exhortation before parade WO Tom Bagley brought the parade to attention before the Last Post.   Tony Wilman counted the 2 minutes silence before playing Reveille.  Leading the wreath laying was the Deputy Lord Lieutenant Alan Titchmarsh, followed by Damian Hinds MP, Mayor Ginny Boxall and local Councillors Andrew Joy and Graham Hill.  As HVA Chair, Jerry Janes laid his wreath, having read the names of the fallen from Holybourne.  Representing the Forces, Captain John Fitzpatrick RN led, followed by Warrant Officer Mark Desborough PARA and Wg Cdr Rebecca Bassett from RAF Odiham.  The British Legion, Veterans and South Atlantic Association wreaths were laid by Derek Maughan, Derek Gardner and John McLean respectively.  WPC Paula Jackson laid the Police wreath.  The younger generation on behalf of the Scouting movement, Cadets and schools laid their wreaths, notably the young Brownies with their hand-crafted wreath.  On behalf of the Church, Alan Armstrong laid his wreath and finally David Andrews laid a wreath for the Masonic Lodge.

Colonel Max Joy delivered the Kohima and Revd Andrew Micklefield led our prayers and blessing, before the march-off to a reception at the White Hart.  We thank Thanassi, our host for laying on a Remembrance punch.  We listened to the band play outside whilst old with new veterans swapped their ‘war stories’ within the comfort of a shared environment.  As always, this is a village event, and a big thank you to the many villagers who make this event happen, notably PO Phil Croucher.

We Will Remember Them.

Maj (Retd) AM Stratta PARA