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Monday, 30 May 2016

Battle of Jutland Commemmorations

On from my post about the Weeping Window poppies, here is a short video about the poppies and what it means to the people of Orkney.

Orkney is centre stage for the national Battle of Jutland commemorations to take place tomorrow. There will be a memorial service streamed live via the BBC at 10.45 tomorrow from St Magnus Cathedral.  All sorts of politicians, royalty and "dignitaries" from the UK and Germany will be attending, as well as bands from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines etc. There will then be a service at the Naval Cemetery in Lyness in the afternoon. Here is a view of the preparations at Lyness and take a look at the other photos on the link to see the care and respect paid to the war graves here.

All the events are by "invitation only" though locals could apply to attend and I know one or two who were successful.  Local music and dance groups, as well as some local school children, will be taking part too, and there will be following events during the week.

It feels quite bizarre to be mowing my grass and spot a Royal Naval landing craft go by, or various grey ghostly ships of the Royal or German Navy.  It gives an inkling of how Scapa Flow was during both world wars.  Local folk going about their daily business while global matters of war and defense were played out in the Flow.

Extra ferry services were laid on to get about 20 black Range Rovers to Orkney, several were armour plated! There have been sniffer dogs around Kirkwall, searches of "the drains" (apparently some of the drain covers hadn't been lifted in years so I think that was a bit of a challenge!).

Today various bands were practicing on the Kirk Green outside the cathedral.  You can see some film clips on Radio Orkney's Facebook page here

Without going into the politics of war (oh don't start me on that one!) I do think it is important to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in all conflicts. My late father was in the RAF in WWII. He never spoke of "his war", though in some ways he was "fortunate" in that he was an instructor mechanic on the Spitfires & Lancaster bombers so didn't leave these shores.  But he lost many friends, those who were serving and those who were civilians.  He hated the big fancy show broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall and refused to ever watch it.  But he would silently weep the next morning as the old warriors filed past the Cenotaph in central London during their act of remembrance.  From him I learned the importance of remembrance.

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