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Patrick Churchill, Commando No. 4 (1924-2018)

With Patrick Churchill at Vierville sur Mer, Normandy, on 4th June.

…it sounded more exciting than peeling potatoes…”

Patrick Churchill volunteered for the Royal Marines when he was just seventeen years old. He was called up in March, 1942, just after his eighteenth birthday. He then volunteered for Special Service because “it sounded more exciting than peeling potatoes,” taking the Commando Course at Achnacarry, Scotland.

Patrick served with the 2ndRoyal Marines Armoured Support Regiment and landed on Juno Beach on D-Day, 6thJune 1944. After a month fighting in the Battle of Normandy, he returned briefly to the UK and was reassigned to the 4 Army Commando. Patrick returned to Europe and participated in the liberation of Walcheren, the Netherlands, landing on Uncle Beach, Vlissingen, on 1stNovember 1944. There is a plaque in Walcheren in Patrick’s honour.

In 1960, Patrick met a lady called Karin Busch. She had lost her mother in the bombing of Dresden and her twin brother was blinded in the fire storm. Patrick and Karin fell in love and married in 1962

Emma met Karin in Normandy in 2016. The following year, she met Patrick in Passchendaele, where he was attending the commemorations of the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele in which his father had seen action with the Grenadier Guards.

Sadly, Karin passed away last January. Patrick travelled to Normandy in June with his son, Francis. A few weeks later, he passed away. Emma will travel to England privately to sing at his funeral.

Link: the story of Partick and Karin Churchill.

2018-07-10T12:33:38+00:00 July 13th, 2018|

Remembrance in Northern Ireland

Emma will travel to Northern Ireland to sing for First World War remembrance and for the commemorations of the Battle of the Boyne. She will sing during remembrance ceremonies in Newcastle on 12thJuly and in Scarva before a reenactment of the Battle of the Boyne on 13thJuly. The organisation is expecting over 80,000 people to attend the event in Scarva – Emma’s largest live audience to date.

Ireland suffered significant losses in the First World War. Last week, Emma sang in the Somme for remembrance ceremonies for the 36th(Ulster) Division who suffered over 5,500 casualties in two days of fighting. Emma also sang for the 16th(Irish) Division in Guillemont. In the battles for Guillemont and neighbouring Ginchy, they suffered over 5,000 casualties – nearly half of the division.

This year is the centenary of the end of the First World War, so during the festivities around the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, the casualties of the First World War will be commemorated.

2018-07-06T16:52:24+00:00 July 7th, 2018|

United Pipers for Peace

On Saturday, 7thJuly Emma will sing in Amiens, France, as part of the United Pipers for Peace event. During the First World War, Amiens provided logistical support for the troops on the front line. Allied soldiers from different countries rested and recuperated in the city.

During the weekend of 7thand 8thJuly, over four hundred pipers from different countries will give concerts in Amiens. Emma will sing during the remembrance ceremony in the cathedral and on the square before the sound and lights show.

2018-07-06T16:49:03+00:00 July 2nd, 2018|

Vera Brittain’s “Perhaps”

Vera Britten in her V.A.D. uniform.

Last January, Emma recorded composer Roland Bouman’s setting of Vera Brittain’s “Perhaps.” The poem is an elegy for her fiancé, Roland Leighton, who died of a sniper wound in Hébuterne, Northern France, on 23rdDecember 2015, aged just twenty.

The Dutch radio programme “Music and Poetry” interviewed Emma and Roland (in Dutch) and broadcast the recording. It is possible to listen through this link.

2018-07-06T16:54:55+00:00 July 1st, 2018|

Commemorating the Battle of the Somme

CWGC Thiepval Memorial, and the French cemetery.

Our vocabulary is not adapted to describe such an existence, because it is outside experience for which words are normally necessary.*

The first day of the Battle of the Somme (1917) alone saw over seventy-thousand casualties. By the end of the battle, there were over a million soldiers and officers wounded, killed, or missing in action.

The immense CWGC memorial in Thiepval commemorates the missing 72,337 British and South African servicemen – a mere fraction of the total casualties. It is the largest Commonwealth memorial to the missing in the world.

Emma will sing at the Royal British Legion’s remembrance ceremony at Thiepval on the anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1stJuly.

She will also sing at the Ulster Tower where the Irish service men are commemorated, and during a tattoo in Arras on 30thJune.

*Source: Royal British Legion CD “Forever: The Official Album of the World War One Commemorations,” 2014

2018-06-25T16:21:15+00:00 June 26th, 2018|

Dutch Veterans’ Day

The Dutch have a wonderful tradition called ‘Veteran’s Day.’ Across the country, city councils host events for local veterans of all ages and campaigns. In Leiden, this usually consists of a meal in the Hooglandse Kerk, a fourteenth-century Gothic cathedral, held on the last Friday in June. This year, Emma will sing a short concert with songs of remembrance and nostalgia at the Leiden veterans’ day, with pianist / organist Brian Fieldhouse. 

2018-06-25T16:26:11+00:00 June 25th, 2018|

The Royal British Legion Picnic in the Park

On Sunday, 24th June, Emma will sing a mini-prom during The Royal British Legion (Holland Branch) Picnic in the Park in Wageningen, the Netherlands. Weather-permitting, it promises to be a lovely afternoon to enjoy Hartenstein Park and listen to the three orchestras which will be playing there. The event is free, with a collection for The Royal British Legion. Don’t forget your picnic and chairs!

Sunday, 24thJune, 14:30, Hartenstein Park, Wageningen, the Netherlands.

2018-07-06T16:54:44+00:00 June 23rd, 2018|

Procession du Vendredi-Saint from Fanfares Liturgiques, Henri Tomasi

Henri Tomasi

Emma will sing Henri Tomasi’s “Procession du Vendredi-Saint,” the final movement of “Fanfares Liturgiques” (1947) during the graduation concert of conductor Guido Marchena. This beautiful piece depicts the passion of Christ. The music has medieval elements: it uses cantus firmus and elements from church modes. It is full of pain and longing, with moments of profound beauty. 

Saturday, 23rd June, 17:00, Sweelinck Conservatoire, Amsterdam

2018-07-06T16:54:35+00:00 June 19th, 2018|

Concert for MAMAS

The Dutch pianist and conductor Marcel van Duyvenvoorde celebrates his forty year anniversary as a pianist. He has arranged a series of concerts in aid of MAMAS, a children’s charity helping women and children in South Africa. Emma will open the concert by singing “The Holy City” and “Rule Britannia.” Even if you cannot attend, please take a moment to explore the beautiful work of MAMAS and consider donating.

Saturday, 23rd June, 15:00, Bethelkerk Scheveningen, the Netherlands

The concert is free: a collection will be taken for MAMAS children’s charity.

2018-07-06T16:54:29+00:00 June 18th, 2018|

West Yorkshire Chief Constable’s Concert

With the West Yorkshire Police Band in Pontefract last March.

On 18thJune, Emma will be the guest soloist at the Chief Constable of the West Yorkshire Police’s concert in Halifax Minster. The West Yorkshire Police Band will present a lively and varied programme of music. Emma will sing songs of remembrance to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, and some Vera Lynn numbers.

Monday, 18th June, 19:30, Halifax Minster, England.

The concert is free. Please register here for tickets.

2018-07-06T16:54:20+00:00 June 10th, 2018|