[Adrian Clee, Salvation Army member and former member of the Royal Marines Band Service]
On Sunday, our Territorial Leader will join with other church leaders in remembrance at the Cenotaph to commemorate those who have lost their lives serving our country. The Salvation Army will also be taking part in services of remembrance across the country this weekend.
Commissioner Clive Adams, who leads The Salvation Army in the UK and the Republic of Ireland will join church leaders at the Cenotaph while our Chief Secretary, Colonel David Hinton, will carry the wreath in remembrance of all who lost their lives, as well as to commemorate The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in world wars and to recognise the support we give to those in armed conflicts today including the work of our military chaplains.
A Salvation Army emergency response vehicle will be based at the Horse Guards Parade to serve teas and coffees to veterans taking part in the march.
Twenty eight people have been proposed to represent The Salvation Army at the march past the Cenotaph this year.
Of this group, Salvation Army member Adrian Clee formerly served as a member of the Royal Marines Band Service for 13 years, until he was badly injured in a coach crash whilst returning from a parade for the Royal Naval Association past the Cenotaph in 1996. He now works for The Salvation Army as a regional community services specialist based in Newport.
“For me personally to be asked to take part in the march past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day is particularly poignant for a number of reasons. One of my colleagues died in that crash and many were injured. Some, like me, were medically discharged due to injuries sustained and I continue to be affected by those injuries today.
“The support of the local Salvation Army corps when a colleague and I were in hospital in Bristol for several weeks after the crash made a huge impression on us both.
“As well as this, the Royal Marines Band Service was the subject of a horrific attack by the IRA in 1989 when the Royal Marines School of Music in Deal was bombed. Eleven of my colleagues were killed and the memories of coming off of parade and hearing that news, attending their funerals and witnessing the defiant march through Deal a week later, when the band left gaps in their ranks to represent those lost, lives long in my memory.
“So for me it is particularly important to honour the memory of those I personally served with who lost their lives. The Salvation Army Emergency Response teams were in attendance at Deal barracks following the bombing, supporting those affected and the emergency services and I know their support was hugely appreciated.”
Another reason that Adrian was asked to represent The Salvation Army in the parade this year, was because he helped lead our emergency response to the Grenfell Tower fire, with our emergency response vehicles serving teas and coffees, and offering a listening ear at the scene for several days around the clock to the emergency personnel responding to the incident. The Salvation Army’s local church in Notting Hill also opened its doors and supported people affected by the fire. Adrian, said: “The Salvation Army officers, staff, and volunteers played a vital role in supporting the emergency services, victims’ families, and the local community at that time. It is a privilege to represent them and to honour the lives of those many people who tragically died in that fire, and to pay tribute to the bravery of the emergency service personnel who faced up to such horrific circumstances at the time.”
Major Phil Layton is also taking part in the march past the Cenotaph. He has recently returned to a Salvation Army Officer appointment following secondment as a chaplain with the Royal Air Force, which began with RAF Officer training at RAF College Cranwell.
After this, he was posted as Station Chaplain to RAF Marham, home of the Tornado force, with particular responsibility to IX Bomber Squadron. This included two brief deployments to RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, at the birth of Operation Shader as the British Armed Forces responded to the threat posed by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS). Reverend Flight Lieutenant Layton was then posted back to RAF College Cranwell, this time as Station Chaplain and also chaplain to the college staff and Officer-Cadets. During this posting Phil was deployed for four months as chaplain to the British Forces in the South Atlantic Islands (aka Falklands).
On return he continued his duties at RAF College Cranwell, picking up promotion to Squadron Leader before being recalled by The Salvation Army to an appointment as Spiritual Programme Director at William Booth College, The Salvation Army’s officer training college in London.
[RAF Akrotiri, of Major Phil Layton leading a service for IX Bomber Squadron in front of a Tornado]
Major Phil said of his taking part in the march past the Cenotaph this Sunday: “Given my recent service within the Armed Forces it certainly felt natural, but also personally imperative that I should accept the invitation to be a part of this parade.
“I am very proud of what the British Armed Forces do, and for the way they do it, seeking to maintain high morals, integrity, professionalism, courage, and respect through incredible adversity in the most hostile environments. The march past the Cenotaph is an appropriate way of showing my deepest respect and gratitude for those who have fought for the freedom and peace which our country still enjoys today. We must never take it for granted.
"Life in the United Kingdom today would look, feel, and sound so different if it had not been for the bravery and commitment of our Armed Forces in the past, and this remains true today.
“We still live in a fragile world, and by acknowledging the incredible sacrifices made in the past I believe it also helps us to keep a sense of awareness that sometimes peace comes at an awful cost.”
You can read more about The Salvation Army’s work during World War One and World War Two here.