“If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep...”
Emma Brown has sung during remembrance ceremonies and events across the globe for organizations including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, the Gurkha Welfare Trust, the Royal British Legion, the Last Post Association, the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, the Welsh Guards’ Association, the Welsh Guards’ Pilgrims, the Spirit of Normandy Trust, D-Day revisited, the Dutch Veteranen Instituut, and for various embassies and charities working with veterans, as well as during private ceremonies organised by descendants.
“They shall grow not 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 will remember them.”
When you go home, tell them of us and say
“For your tomorrow, we gave our today.”
Remembrance ceremonies appeal to Emma because of their special atmosphere which combines formality with intimacy, and because of the rare opportunity to meet veterans. Singing at remembrance ceremonies is a humbling experience: more like an act of service or duty than a concert. Remembrance ceremonies remind us of the price we paid for the relative freedom in which we live today. As Colonel Ryan Gremillion (New Mexico Military Institute) remarked, “Freedom isn’t free.” Emma considers her role in remembrance ceremonies to be an act of gratitude.
Please find below some photographs and videos from different remembrance ceremonies and veterans’ events at which Emma has sung.
A ceremony in La-Ville-aux-Bois CWGC cemetery in Northern France for representatives of the Durham Light Infantry and the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
4th September, 2021, near Laon, France
Singing in Laon Cathedral, France, for the presentation of a remembrance Bluet from the Bishop of Durham.
3rd September, 2021, Laon, France
A remembrance video for the World Rugby Memorial, commemorating the rugby players of the First World War and subsequent wars.
Emma was honoured to sing for the funeral of Paul Moerman, the last Grenadier who fought at the Battle of Ypenburg at the oldest Dutch Second World War veteran. Rest in peace.
In the pretty village of Guillemont there is a Celtic Cross, a memorial to the 16th (Irish) Division who fought there during the Battle of the Somme. The Somme Association arranged a ceremony there, which was very small in scale due to the COVID restrictions, and yet huge in its poignancy.
1st July, 2020, Guillemont, France.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone,” sung at the Ulster Tower (Northern Ireland’s national war memorial) during the 104th commemoration of the Battle of the Somme, organised by the Somme Association. Due to the pandemic, the public was limited and socially-distanced. It was a humbling ceremony.
Ulster Tower, France, 1st July, 2020.
“Going Home” at the Ulster Tower (Northern Ireland’s national war memorial) during the 104th commemoration of the Battle of the Somme, organised by the Somme Association. The 36th (Ulster) Division suffered extreme casualties during the Battle of the Somme.
Ulster Tower, France, 1st July, 2020.
Singing at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing for the Royal British Legion’s 104th commemoration of the Battle of the Somme.
1st July, 2020, Thiepval, France.
“Can you hear me?” for U.K. Armed Forces Day, with M.O.D. footage of the military supporting civilians during the pandemic.
Emma was part of a video for the 76th anniversary of D-Day from the organisation D-Day Revisited. Due to the lockdown, veterans were unable to make their pilgrimage to Normandy this year.
6th June, 2020, filmed in Leiden, the Netherlands
Commemorating the Battle of Ypenburg at the beginning of the Second World War in the Netherlands, eighty years later. The ceremony was broadcast on Omroep West, and, due to the pandemic, no public were present. 10th May, 2020.
Emma provided music for a virtual parade for VE Day, which included over 350 Royal British Legion Standard Bearers.
8th May, 2020, filmed in Leiden, the Netherlands
Emma joined the choir of her primary school to make a music video for VE Day. Enjoy!
7th May, 2020, filmed in Leiden, the Netherlands
Singing for Dutch Remembrance Day in Leiden, the Netherlands. The ceremony, which, due to the pandemic was carried out with few people present and no public, was broadcast live on Sleutelstad television. 4th May, 2020.
“I am a poor wayfaring stranger,” for a virtual commemoration of the Battle of Arras, France, 1917. Recorded in Leiden, the Netherlands. April, 2020.
A virtual commemoration of the the Battle of Arras, France, 1917. Recorded in Leiden, the Netherlands. April, 2020.
The Guards’ Remembrance Association of the Netherlands commemorates the British Guardsmen who fought in the Netherlands. Emma was invited to speak at their first symposium, presenting a paper about the traditions of remembrance in the United Kingdom and about her work singing for remembrance and veterans. February, 2020.
To mark seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, the Protestant Community of the Hooglandse Kerk in Leiden invited Emma to sing the lament “Hashivenu.” January, 2020.
The German day of remembrance, Volkstrauertag, falls on the third Sunday of November. Emma sang in Ysselsteyn war cemetery in the Netherlands, where over 32,000 fallen servicemen are buried. British veteran John Sleep (pictured) presented a hand-carved cross of peace at the ceremony. November, 2019.
Singing for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Venray, the Netherlands. October, 2019.
The remembrance ceremony in the Pieterskerk in Leiden, the Netherlands, with the Central Royal Military Band of the Netherlands Army “Johan Willem Friso,” the Leidse Cantorij, and conductor Major Tijmen Botma.
Singing in Mierlo-Hout, the Netherlands, as part of the town’s commemorations marking seventy-five years since the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of the Scheldt in 1944-1945.
22nd September, 2019, Mierlo-Hout, the Netherlands
“We’ll Meet Again” at the GelreDome stadium for over 22,000 football fans and veterans from Operation Market Garden, at the Airborne football match between Vitesse and Fortuna-Sittard.
21st September, 2019, Arnhem, the Netherlands
Singing in the Eusebius Kerk, Arnhem, the Netherlands for the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, in the presence of veterans and HRH Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and Prof. Mr. Pieter van Vollenhoven.
20th September, 2019, Arnhem, the Netherlands
Singing in St. Ann’s Anglican chapel on HMNB Portsmouth, during a service of Remembrance at the Spirit of Normandy Trust’s D-Day Reunion weekend. 8th September, 2019 Portsmouth, UK.
With Royal Navy veteran Patrick Thomas at the Spirit of Normandy Trust’s D-Day Reunion weekend. 8th September, 2019 Portsmouth, UK.
“Land of Hope and Glory” with the band of HMS Nelson, sung during the Spirit of Normandy Trust’s D-Day Reunion weekend. 7th September, 2019 Portsmouth, UK.
“Roses of Picardy” with pianist Aled Maddock at Amiens Cathedral.
29th June, 2019, Picardy, France
Singing at the Ulster Tower, Northern Ireland’s national war memorial. It commemorates all those from Ulster who served in the First World War, and it is built on soil soaked by the blood of the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division: in just two days of fighting 5,500 officers and enlisted men were killed, wounded or missing on 1st and 2nd July, 1916.
1st July, 2019, France, Somme Association
“Going Home” at the Irish Memorial in Guillemont. More than 1,200 men from the 16th (Irish) Division were killed between 3rd and 9th September, 1916, fighting to liberate the small village of Guillemont and the neighbouring village of Ginchy.
1st July, 2019, France
“You’ll Never Walk Alone,” sung with the male-voice choir of Ystalyfera Welsh School and pianisit Aled Maddock at the Thiepval Memorial to the missing on the 103rd anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
1st July, 2019, France
Singing with SHAPE Band of NATO at the Thiepval Memorial. We performed “Keep the Home Fires Burning” as the VIPs shook hands with the standard bearers.
1st July, 2019, France
Emma was absolutely honoured to have been invited to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the US Mission to the EU’s Independence Day celebration in Brussels. Here she is on stage with Minister Councillor for Public Affairs Christina Tomlinson (left), Ambassador Gordon Sondland (middle), and High Representative Federica Mogherini (right).
4th June, 2019, Auto World, Brussels, Belgium.
Meeting the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker-Bowles, at the Veterans’ Marquee after the D-Day commemorations in Bayeux, Normandy, France. 6th June, 2019.
Prince Charles attended the VVIPs reception at Bayeux on 6the June, 2019, after commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Emma sang for the veterans, their carers, and the VVIPs. For videos, please scroll down.
Meeting the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, at the Veterans’ Marquee after the D-Day commemorations in Bayeux, Normandy, France. 6th June, 2019.
A liberation concert with the Band of Liberation and Pipes, under conductor Simon Dubbelaar, at the magnificent castle in Bénouville, France. 6th June, 2019, Bénouville, France.
Photo: Ben Maynes
“We’ll Meet Again,” by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles, with The Central Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment under Flt Lt Thomas Rodda. Following the annual remembrance ceremony in Arromanches, Emma Brown led the veterans in the song “We’ll Meet Again.” She was joined by D-Day veteran Len Fox (R.A.S.C. att. 53rd Welsh Div.). Len landed on Gold Beach on 6th June, 1944. He participated in the liberation of Bayeux. After being wounded in Tilly-sur-Seulles, he participated in the liberation of Brussels and fought in La Roche en Ardennes. In the Netherlands, he fought in Operation Market Garden and the liberation of Den Bosch. His service during the Second World War concluded with the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration Camp. He served a further two years in the army and was demobbed in 1947. Len – it was an absolute honour to sing with you and thank you for all you did. 6th June, 2019, Arromanches, France.
Each year, from 23:30 on 5th June, people gather at the statue of Major John Howard for the ‘Midnight Ceremony’ next to Pegasus Bridge. Major Howard used to hold a toast at the bridge each year. His daughter, Penny Howard-Bates, has upheld this tradition. A recording of Major Howard’s account of the glider landings is played, and a toast is raised at 00:16 – the moment when the first glider landed. 5th June, Ranville, France.
In the VVIP’s tent at Bayeux, on the 75th anniversary of D-Day. “Jerusalem” composer: Hubert Parry, poet: William Blake, The Central Band of the Royal British Legion, conductor David Coles OBE Emma Brown, mezzo-soprano. After the D-Day 75 commemorations in Bayeux cathedral and CWGC Bayeux War Cemetery, the Royal British Legion gave a reception and lunch for the veterans and VVIPs, including HRH The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prime Minister Theresa May, and the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn. 5th June, 2019, Bayeux, Normandy, France.
In the VVIP’s tent at Bayeux, on the 75th anniversary of D-Day. “Rule, Britannia!” composer: Thomas Arne, poet: James Thomson, The Central Band of the Royal British Legion, conductor David Coles OBE, Emma Brown, mezzo-soprano. After the D-Day 75 commemorations in Bayeux cathedral and CWGC Bayeux War Cemetery, the Royal British Legion gave a reception and lunch for the veterans and VVIPs, including HRH The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prime Minister Theresa May, and the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn. 5th June, 2019, Bayeux, Normandy, France.
In the VVIP’s tent at Bayeux, on the 75th anniversary of D-Day. “Land of Hope and Glory,” composer: Edward Elgar, poet A.C. Benson. The Central Band of the Royal British Legion, conductor David Coles OBE, Emma Brown, mezzo-soprano. After the D-Day 75 commemorations in Bayeux cathedral and CWGC Bayeux War Cemetery, the Royal British Legion gave a reception and lunch for the veterans and VVIPs, including HRH The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prime Minister Theresa May, and the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn. 5th June, 2019, Bayeux, Normandy, France.
Singing for the unveiling of a plaque to two airmen on the existing memorial at Grangues. In the early hours of 6thJune, 1944, two Stirling planes crashed near Grangues killing 44 people. 8 survivors were captured, taken prisoner, and shot in the woods. They are commemorated on a memorial in the beautiful commune of Grangues, where, each year, people assemble to pay their respects. Emma sang ‘Amazing Grace’ and led the national anthems of the United Kingdom, Canada, and France.
On 5th June, 2019, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the Spirit of Normandy Trust arranged a commemoration in Colleville-Montgomery at the statue of Field Marshal Montgomery. During the wreath-laying, the Central Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment played “Requiem for a Soldier,” with conductor Thomas Rodda.
5th June, 2019, Colleville-Montgomery, Normandy, France.
Singing “Amazing Grace” for the late Ray Shuck. Ray landed in Normandy in a Horsa Glider on 6thJune 1944 with the 6thAirborne division and helped capture Pegasus Bridge. He was seriously wounded in Ranville and left for dead. By sheer luck, someone noticed his leg was twitching. He was sent back to England and recovered, and lived into his mid nineties. The team from D-Day revisited placed a small, wooden cross for him in the church in Ranville.
The six glider stones at the Pegasus Memorial Museum represent the six gliders which landed in the early hours of 6th June 1944. Members of the 43rd and 52nd Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry managed to capture Pegasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge, which was vital for the D-Day landings the next morning. On 5th June, 2019, a ceremony was held at the Glider Stones to mark the 75th anniversary of Operation Deadstick. Emma sang ‘I vow to thee, my country’ and ‘Abide with me.’ A collection was taken for The Veterans’ Charity. 5th June, 2019, Ranville, Normandy, France.
A spontaneous street concert with the Band of Liberation after the Liberation Parade in Wageningen, the Netherlands. The official surrender in the Netherlands at the end of the Second World War was signed in Wageningen, so it is the centre of events on Liberation Day. 5th May, 2019, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
Reichswald Forest War Cemetery is the largest CWGC cemetery in Germany. 7,494 servicemen are buried there, who perished during the Second World War. Emma sang there for British veterans on Dutch Remembrance Day. 4thMay, 2019, Reichswald Forest, Germany.
Singing on Dutch remembrance day at CWGC Oosterbeek cemetery in the Netherlands, for British veterans traveling with the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans. 4th May, 2019, Oosterbeek, the Netherlands.
A service of remembrance in Heteren, the Netherlands. On 23rd September, 1944, three British aeroplanes crashed in Heteren, the Netherlands. All twenty-one crew members died in the crash, and they are buried in the village cemetery. 4th May, 2019, Heteren, the Netherlands.
Singing during the official opening of the Garden of Peace (“Pipers’ Place”) in CWGC Faubourg d’Amiens, Arras. 9th April, 2019, Arras, France.
The dawn ceremony at the Wellington Tunnels in Arras, commemorating the Battle of Arras in 1917. 9th April, 2019, Arras, France.
“I am dreaming of the mountains of my home…” Emma sang an informal concert for the residents of the Gurkha Welfare Trust’s residential home in Pokhara, Nepal, on 18th March, 2019. The residents included veterans from the Second World War, Burma, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Brunei, and other campaigns, and the widows of Gurkhas.
With Rfn Chandra Gurung, who was taken prisoner of war by the Japanese during the war in Burma.
With a Gurkha widow at the Gurkha Welfare Trust’s residential home in Pokhara, Nepal. She told us how afraid she had been that her husband would never return, and then she offered to paint Emma’s nails. The residents sang Nepalese songs and invited us to dance with them.
The residents of the Gurkha Welfare Trust’s residential home in Pokhara, Nepal. Emma sang an informal concert there on 18th March, 2019.
Psalmus VI, Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687), arranged for guitar by Robert Sinha (gutairist). Performed 16th February, 2019, in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, during the annual remembrance ceremony for Admiral De Ruyter, organised by Foundation Michiel de Ruyter. Huygens and his wife were acquaintances with the De Ruyters.
“Meeres Stille,” Op. 3 No. 2, Franz Schubert and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, arranged for guitar by Robert Sinha (guitarist). The Dutch Admiral de Ruyter led the Dutch fleet during the Anglo-Dutch wars and helped free Christian slaves.
“Sea Fever,” John Ireland and John Masefield, arranged for guitar by Robert Sinha (guitarist). Performed 16th February, 2019, in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, during the annual commemoration ceremony for Admiral De Ruyter, organised by Foundation Michiel de Ruyter.
As part of the Leiden International Military Tattoo, Emma sang in a show to mark the centenary of the armistice of the First World War in Western Europe. Whilst she sang “I’m Dreaming of Home” with K&G3, members of the Band of Liberation marched past dressed as soldiers of the First World War.
Accompanying Tosh MacDonald of Jedburgh Pipe Band on HMY Britannia. Tosh was playing the Millin-Montgomery pipes.
Piper “Bill” Millin famously played the pipes whilst marching up and down the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. He later learned that he had not been shot because the Germans had simply assumed his was insane.
Millin’s son was present at the Christmas dinner, organised by the charity D-Day Revisited.
Tuesday, 2nd December, 2018, Edinburgh, Scotland.
With veteran Oliver Coulthard on HMY Britannia. The charity D-Day Revisited, which supports veterans and their families returning to Normandy, organised a Christmas dinner for veterans, carers, and friends which was hosted by Rear Admiral Neil E. Rankin onboard HMY Britannia. Emma sang Amazing Grace before dinner and led an informal sing along at the piano.
For more information about Oliver, please follow this link.
Tuesday, 2nd December, 2018, Edinburgh, Scotland.
At the piano with veteran Ron Minton after the D-Day revisited Christmas dinner on the former royal yacht Britannia. The piano on HMY Britannia has been played by HRHs Princess Anne, Margaret, and Alexandra, as well as by Sir Noel Coward.
Please take the time to watch this short video of Mr. Minton talking about the Battle of Normandy. The charity D-Day Revisited took Mr. Minton and two other veterans to visit Chateau de la Londe to work out where they had fought.
Tuesday, 2nd December, 2018, Edinburgh, Scotland.
With veteran Patrick Thomas on HMS Britannia. Patrick was one of the few survivors of landing craft LCH185 which was sunk by a sea mine off the coast of Normandy. The vessel was found by archaeologist John Henry Philips. Emma sang at the unveiling of a memorial to the crew earlier this year.
To read more, please follow this link.
Tuesday, 2nd December, 2018, Edinburgh, Scotland.
The German war cemetery in Ysselsteyn, the Netherlands, has around 32,000 buried officersand men, many of whom are unidentified. There are also some First War War soldiers whose bodies were carried to the Netherlands by the river. Emma sang “Lascia ch’io pianga” from Handel’s Rinaldo during a humbling, dignified ceremony for Volkstrauertag. 18th November, 2018, Ysselsteyn, the Netherlands.
British veteran John Sleep presented a wooden cross to the German war cemetery in Ysselsteyn, the Netherlands. Mr. Sleep fought in Africa and Italy before landing on Sword Beach on D-Day. He was injured in 1944 in Limburg, the Netherlands, when a German tank fired a shell at him. Mr. Sleep is still grateful to the tank crew for saving his life, since he is certain they fired to injure, not to kill. The inscription on the cross reads “Peace with All Nations.” Mr. Sleep visited the German Cemetery in Ysselsteyn, the Netherlands, for the German remembrance day (Volkstrauertag), and on his request Emma was invited to sing.
To conclude her journey on remembrance weekend, Emma visited the German cemetery at Langemark with the Welsh Guards Pilgrims. 12th November, 2018, Langemark, Belgium.
Emma joined the Welsh Guards Pilgrims to visit the graves of Welsh Guards who were killed during the First World War. We visited the grave of James Thomas 3313 in CWGC Artillery Wood. Kelvyn Jenkins played the Last Post and Emma sang Abide with Me. 12th November, 2018, Artillery Wood, Belgium.
Emma was honoured to have been awarded honorary life membership to the Friends of the Tank Memorial Ypres Salient, and the position of ambassador to the memorial. She sang during a ceremony on 11th November in which soil taken from CWGC cemeteries with fallen tank crew was scattered in a garden of remembrance. 11th November, 2018, Poelkapelle, Belgium.
Emma joined the West Yorkshire Police Band to sing in the afternoon ceremony in CWGC Tyne Cot cemetery. There are around12,000 burials at Tyne Cot, the largest British cemetery in Belgium, and over 33,000 missing service men are listed on the walls. 11th November, 2018, Tyne Cot, Belgium.
The aria “Lascia ch’io pianga” from Handel’s opera ‘Rinaldo,’ sung during the wreath-laying at the centenary of the armistice of the First World War. With the Band of the Hampshire Constabulary and conductor Simon Morgen, 11th November, 2018, CWGC Thiepval Monument to the Missing of the Somme, France.
Emma sang during the Royal British Legion’s remembrance service at the CWGC Thiepval Monument to the Missing of the Somme, a vast edifice on which over missing 72,000 officers and men are commemorated. For more information about the ceremony, please see this article in The Times newspaper. 11th November, 2018, Thiepval, France.
As part of “La Grande Veillée” (the Great Vigil), Battlefields by 4×4 lit up the graves at CWGC Houdain Lane. Houdain Lane is reached by a series of muddy farm tracks. Emma sang “O Valiant Hearts” during a late night ceremony, led by Carl Liversage. 10th November, 2018, Tilly-les-Mofflaines, France.
To honour those who would see no dawn on the armistice of the First World War, the French region of Pays d’Artois, through which the Western Front passed, lit up the graves of fallen service men and women in “La Grande Veillée” (the Great Vigil). Emma sang at the opening ceremony in CWGC Faubourg d’Amiens, and guided six children from her alma mater, Nottingham Girls High School. 10th November, 2018, Arras, France.
On 1st November, seventy four years after the liberation of the Dutch island of Walcheren, the ashes of Commando Patrick Churchill were scattered on the beach on which he landed. Emma was invited to sing Amazing Grace at his memorial, in a private ceremony. Vlissingen, the Netherlands.
At the ‘First World War Reminiscence Charity Gala’ in Charing Cross Theatre, London: a fundraising event for charities supporting veterans.
“Tell my Father,” lyrics by Frank Wildhorn, music Jack Murphy, from the musical “The American Civil War” by Gregory Boyd and Frank Wildhorn, arranged for piano by E.J.E. Brown.
28th October, 2018, London, U.K.
Singing “The Star Spangled Banner” during the US CentennialWorld War One ceremony at ABMC Flanders Fields cemetery, with SHAPE band of NATO and conductor James Bettencourt. 27th October, 2018, Waregem, Belgium.
“In Flanders Fields” by John Jacobson and Roger Emerson, arranged by Dominique Lecomte. SHAPE band of NATO and conductor James Bettencourt. Sung during the US Official World War One Centenary Ceremony at ABMC In Flanders Field American War Cemetery, 27th October, 2018, Waregem, Belgium.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Turner van Straubenzee of the Royal Canadian Dragoons (1876-1918) was killed in the line of duty on 9th October, 2018, just over a month before the end of the First World War. Members of his family from Canada, the US, and Britain organised and attended a ceremony at his grave in CWGC Prémont British Cemetery, France.
Who are we now? His legacy… our very selves.
Each year in the pretty town of Driel, the Netherlands, a ceremony is held at the memorial to the 7th Battalion Hampshire Regiment. Forty-two service men died fighting at Driel between 23rd September and 4th October 1944 during Operation Market Garden.
The foundation Stichting Never Forget Them ensures this annual ceremony continues. Even today, seventy-four years later, the townsfolk are grateful to the regiment for the risks and sacrifices they made for the town’s liberation.
Singing in the rain during the Airborne Memorial Service at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, the Netherlands. Around 1,600 British, Commonwealth, Dutch, and Polish service men are buried in the cemetery. Each year, a service is held in English, Dutch, and Polish to commemorate the fallen. In spite of the rain, several thousand people attended including veterans of the airborne divisions. With conductor Jurgen Nab and the Royal Harmony Orchestra of Oosterbeek, 23rd September 2018.
There is a beautiful annual tradition at the Arnhem Oosterbeek war cemetery: local children lay flowers on every single grave. Before placing the flower at the tomb stone, they whisper the name of the service man who is buried there – when the name is known. 23rd September, 2018, Oosterbeek, the Netherlands