Monday, 10th December 2007
The procession of candles was the pivotal moment of a service of remembrance and thanksgiving for the Mercian infantrymen who returned at the end of October from a six-month tour of Helmand province in Afghanistan.
The nine candles were lit at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior after a wreathlaying in memory of the nine Mercian soldiers who were killed during that tour of duty.
Because they are currently the London duties battalion stationed at Hounslow in West London, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, gave permission for the service to be held in the Abbey.
In his address the Dean said:
We shall remember in particular nine of the Battalion who laid down their lives in the service of justice and freedom, in the service of their nation and for their friends. We shall give thanks for their lives, for their courage and dedication, for friendship within the regimental family and for the opportunity of service and of creating a hopeful future.
We shall pray too for all those who suffer from the injuries they sustained, for their healing, and for all who love them and care for them; for the forces of the Crown at present serving in theatres of war; for the people of Afghanistan and for their peace.
Today, those of us who are witnesses of the Battalion’s remembrance and thanksgiving express our pride in the armed forces of the Crown and our thanks for what they undertake, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, on behalf of the people of this land.
A further address was given by the 2nd Battalion’s padre, Reverend Nick Todd. Lessons were read by the commanding officer, Lt Col Simon Banton and by the regimental sergeant major, Warrant Officer Class I Neil Cresswell.
The Abbey choir, conducted by the Organist and Master of Choristers James O’Donnell, sang Psalm 114 to a setting by Thomas Walmisley, the anthem Greater Love Hath No Man by John Ireland and For The Fallen by former Abbey organist Douglas Guest.
The band of the Scots Guards played before and during the service.
The 2nd Battalion marched to the Abbey from Wellington Barracks led by their regimental mascot, a Swaledale ram called Private Derby XXVIII, from the Duke of Devonshire’s Chatsworth estate.