Littleport marks Royal British Legion centenary year with moving ceremony
Lyn Gibb-de Swarte
- Credit: Cathy Gibb-de Swarte
Residents, councillors and families in Littleport remembered those who lost their lives in combat at a moving ceremony to mark the Royal British Legion’s centenary year.
Those who attended included past councillors like Grenville Goodson, Cllr Clive Webber, leader of Littleport Parish Council and Cllr David Ambrose Smith, who represents Littleport on Cambridgeshire County Council.
Cathy Gibb-de Swarte, general secretary at the Littleport Society and publicity officer Lyn Gibb-de Swarte were there, while Margaret McGowen, secretary of the Royal British Legion’s Littleport branch, was present.
There were also members of Corporal Charles Pettit’s family, who were traced by family records expert, membership secretary and treasurer of the Littleport Society, Bruce Frost.
The ceremony coincided on the same day as the Venerable David Fleming of Ely Cathedral led a blessing on Saturday, May 15 at the headstone of Corporal Pettit in Littleport Cemetery.
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Corporal Pettit, a soldier who enlisted with the Royal Norfolk Regiment in 1911, was among the first troops sent into battle in Europe in 1914.
The 18-year-old was wounded and captured during the Battle of Mons, but was repatriated in 1916 due to his injuries.
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Corporal Pettit, who died on January 28, 1918, was buried in Littleport Cemtery in a common grave paid for by the parish, which disentitled him from having a ‘proper’ headstone.
In 2014 and with help from Garth McGowen, president of the Littleport RBL branch, help was requested from local ex-service personnel and were able to purchase a grave space for Corporal Pettit.
Because of this, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission were able to install a headstone in the village.
Previously, there had been a dedication of the Garden of Remembrance at 9am conducted by the Venerable David Fleming.
This coincided with the wreath-laying services around the country to mark 100 years to the day, and time, when a wreath was first laid at the Cenotaph in London.
The wreath-laying services commemorated the unification of four different organisations formed to honour those who had served their country, into one British Legion.
Both services were conducted with due pomp and circumstance, with the lowering and raising of the flag, the Last Post, two-minute silence, ‘Reveille’ and benediction.
They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old; age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them.