Chadsmoor Remembers – Richard Pursehouse,
The Chase Project and member of the
Wolverhampton Western Front Association
On a sunny crisp and cold morning in Chadsmoor, former Staffordshire Regiment soldier Steve Taylor, resplendent in his black beret, black blazer, regimental tie and grey flannels led out the ‘crocodile’ of children from Chadsmoor C.E Junior School in Burns Street. A single, paced beat from his drum kept the marching children in line.
At the Chadsmoor war memorial installed two years ago a few hundred metres away, Steve swapped his beret for a black Staffordshire Regiment helmet as two standard bearers from the Hednesford Staffordshire Regimental Association and the 1st Airborne Division Association took up their positions either side of the memorial.
The children, parents and staff congregated around to hear Canon Pat Maguire remind everyone of the sacrifices made by local men and women a century ago. As 11.00 o’clock arrived, Steve pursed his lips and the emotive notes from his silver bugle washed over those standing silently. The standard bearers either side lowered their flags and everyone stood respectfully in silence.
The tune for the Last Post dates back to the 1790s and was originally used to mark specific times of the day; in this instant for indicating that a camp was secure for the night. However by the mid-1850s the tune began to be used to represent a life cut short.
The two minutes’ silence observed, Steve played a more upbeat tune “Reveille” which was originally used by the British Army to indicate the start of the day (followed about 30 minutes later by ‘First Post’ and other bugle calls throughout the day).
Today “Reveille” symbolises not only a return to daily life at the end of the act of homage, but also the ultimate resurrection of the fallen on the Day of Judgement.
After the ceremony at the Chadsmoor memorial, Head Teacher Mrs Jennie Westley presided over the school assembly during which Canon Pat Maguire continued the theme of sacrifice and remembrance. As the children filled out, Mrs Westley introduced Richard to Tom Fawdery whose Shot at Dawn model was prominent on the table at the front of the assembly.
The model is a replica of the Shot at Dawn memorial at The National Arboretum, Alrewas. Tom explained that his father Neil had drilled over 300 holes into a block of wood.
Tom had discussed the idea at the school where his mother teaches (Maple Hayes Hall School, Burntwood) as well as his own school, resulting in over 300 wooden pegs being painted and named. Members of 1st Norton Canes Scout Group, to which Tom belongs, were also involved.
Tom’s mother Alison explained: “Tom has done really well. It took a lot of bottle to stand up and talk about the project – both at the school and at his scout troop.”
The project began before Easter and it was finished before the end of the summer term.
Two of the pegs caught Richard’s eye – one with the outline of the Shot at Dawn statue at the National Arboretum etched onto the peg, and another with the question: “If we don’t remember them, who will?”
The pegs filled the holes in the shape of a poppy, the heads painted to represent the red poppy with a centre of black and green leaves around the edges.
On Saturday 11 November at 10.30 Canon Maguire was again in action for another Service of Remembrance for those who gave their lives that came from Chadsmoor.
LEST WE FORGET
Cannock Chase Radio News Desk