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Friends Of The Somme Mid Ulster Branch
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  Festival Of Remembrance, London 2006 click here for more photos
As part of the ongoing 90th Anniversary Commemorations of the Battle of The Somme, 46 members of the branch enjoyed a three day trip to London. Whilst there, the group participated in the Remembrance Service at Whitehall and attended a day of events to mark Armistice day and the events of the Great War.
On Friday November 10, the group's first stop was Parliament Buildings, where, as guests of Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, they were given a guided tour of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Several members took the opportunity to sit on the Prime Minister's seat. Leaving parliament the group then embarked on a bus tour of the sights and sounds of London. The tour was conducted by Branch member Barbara Cornett nee Marks. All were amazed at Barbara's informed and insightful knowledge of her surroundings. Shopping, sleeping and relaxing was next on the agenda as the members enjoyed a free afternoon and evening with many of them taking a trip on the London Eye.
The following morning, November 11, the group proceeded to Trafalgar Square where they joined in 2 minutes silence in honour of those who fought and died in two World Wars and other conflicts around the world. The service was compared by TVAM presenter Ben Shepherd. Prior to the the period of silence, the large crowd were entertained by classical singing quartet "All Angels". Following this, a bugler sounded the Last Post and four Eurofighter aircraft took part in a fly-by. The service ended with those attending being invited to place poppies in the fountains as a mark of respect for the fallen.
En route to the Royal Albert Hall, the group stopped to view the New Zealand Memorial, unveiled the previous day by the Queen. At the Hall, the group enjoyed a performance of the Festival of Remembrance which included military bands, Chris De Burgh and service choirs.
Members were up early on the Sunday morning to ensure a good position for the parade and the Service of Remembrance later in the morning. The parade was attended by members of the Royal Family. As part of the proceedings of the service, two members of the Friends of the Somme group took part in the parade. The first was Ivan Burnside from Hillsborough who is a Korean war veteran. The second is David McNeil from Larne. David's father served in the 36th Ulster Division in the Great War and was captured by the Germans during the Big Push in March 1918. Following an attempted escape, McNeil was whipped and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner.
After the Service of Remembrance , the group moved west of London to Windsor visit Windsor castle. On return to London, they were hosted by the Victory Services Club in Marble Arch where they enjoyed dinner.
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