Comradeship at the Cenotaph

This Remembrance Sunday was a bright but cloudy day and even with a biting Northerly wind the crowds stood waiting well in advance, packed both sides of the pavements of Whitehall.

Crowds at Remembrance Sunday 12.11.17
No buses today for Whitehall
Veterans line the centre of the road as far as the eye can see, wreaths at the ready.

Against the half-muffled sombre church bells, the atmosphere is upbeat; crowds chattering, lines of friendly policemen with little need to keep order and comrades-in-arms making jokes, passing the silver hips flasks to keep up the joviality and keep out the cold.

Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, now ironically positioned outside the War Office that he so strongly resisted.

As the hour drew nearer to 11 o’clock even the statues seemed to stand to attention. The cannons boomed out and a heavy mass of silence descended for two minutes, broken only by the wing flaps and cries of unsettled pigeon, gulls and babies.

“Short as the watch that ends the night
  Before the rising sun.”

Then poppy wreaths were laid by royalty and dignitaries and the stentorian tones of the Bishop of London rang the length of Whitehall in prayer. After the ceremony, the massed bands signalled the start of the veterans march past.

naval men waiting in turn for the march past the Cenotaph

Only when it is their turn do the contingents stand to attention and pay their respects in the march past the empty tomb of the Cenotaph, remembering with red poppy wreath and salute all those who have perished in human conflicts since World War 1.

march past the Cenotaph in Whitehall 12.11.17
“A thousand ages in Thy sight
  Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
  Before the rising sun.”

Postscript: Attending Remembrance Sunday is quite usual for me but I also made use of the occasion to practice some street shots. There are many cameras there so I was just one more recorder. David Gibson in his Street Photography Manual regards public events as fertile ground though he encourages looking for the side scenes, rather than, the main focus. I have tried to capture the spirit of this day in both aspects.

Images quotes from the Remembrance Day hymn “O God our help in ages past


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