“If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep...”
Emma Brown has sung at remembrance ceremonies in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands for organizations including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Royal British Legion, the Normandy Veterans Association, the Last Post Association, the Welsh Guards Pilgrims, and various embassies.
“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.
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
“Jerusalem,” by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848 – 1918) and William Blake (1757-1827), sung during the wreath-laying at the Airborne Ceremony at CWGC Arnhem-Oosterbeek, the Netherlands, 23rd September, 2018. Koninklijke Harmonie Oosterbeek under conductor Jurgen Nab.
The secret of happiness is freedom.
The secret of freedom is courage.
This citation is carved on the monument underneath the names of the five crew members of Dakota FZ626 who perished when the pilot, after the plane was shot, crash landed her into the very guns that were firing at her. The monument was unveiled at Schaarsbergen on 21st September, 2018.
Gé Bijlsma was a child of Arnhem. He was four when he was suddenly dragged into a cellar by his grandmother when the battle commenced. They stayed in hiding for over a week.
Gé kindly gave me his book “Oma, gaan we nou dood?” (‘Grandma, do you think we’re going to die?’), written by Marike Spee. Highly recommended, it is written in accessible Dutch and describes the confusion, curiosity, and distress of a young child during a war.
Renkum, the Netherlands, 21st September 2018.
Singing “Amazing Grace” during the unveiling ceremony of the Airborne Monument in Renkum, the Netherlands, commemorating the service men of the Airborne Division who fought during Operation Market Garden.
Glider Pilot Frank Ashleigh (pictured) and Parachuter Steven Morgan unveiled a monument on 21st September 2018 in Renkum, the Netherlands, to commemorate the Airborne Division . Both fought in the area in 1944, seventy-four years ago. Frank has been campaigning to give the glider operations more recognition. Almost all the troops, vehicles, arms, and supplies were brought to the Netherlands in gliders.
With Len Fox at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, the largest CWGC cemetery in Germany. It is the final resting place of around 7,500 British, Commonwealth, and Polish service men. Len landed on Gold Beach on 6th June, 1944. He fought in the liberation of Bayeux, Brussens, and s’Hertogenbosch. He was also among the liberators of the concentration camp at Belsen. He traveled to the Netherlands with the Stichting Nederland-Amerika.
Singing in Hechtel, Belgium for the Welsh Guards Association at the Sherman Tank Memorial. The Welsh Guards fought at Hechtel during the Second World War. In 1944, they helped capture ‘Joe’s Bridge,’ a wooden bridge over the Bocholt-Herentals Canal, which became a strategic point in Operation Market-Garden.
The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans was founded in 1948. The charity provides outings, entertainment, and support for veterans, and organises trips abroad to the battle fields in which veterans fought. Emma was invited to give an informal concert for a party of veterans visiting the Netherlands in early September.
United Pipers for Peace, 1918-2018, was a gathering of around 400 bagpipers in the French city of Amiens. Emma sang ‘Amazing Grace’ in Amiens Cathedral with the massed bands during a remembrance ceremony. She also participated in concerts in the town square. With Drum Major Derek Dean.
Leading the massed bands in ‘Amazing Grace’ during a remembrance ceremony in Amiens Cathedral, France, for United Pipers for Peace. With Pipe Major Tom Jamieson and Drum Major Derek Dean of the Huntley and District Pipe Band. There were around 400 pipers in the massed bands.
Singing at the memorial for the 16th(Irish) Division in Guillemont, France. The 16th(Irish) Division lost over half their men fighting for Guillemont and Ginchy. With the Rt Hon. Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and the Reverent Patrick Irwin, the Royal British Legion Chaplain to Normandy.
The Ulster Tower commemorates the men of Ulster who fell in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. In particular, the 36th(Ulster) Division suffered heavy casualties. Emma sang at a ceremony on 1stJuly, 2018, organised by The Somme Association. Ulster Tower, Thiepval, France.
The CWGC memorial to the missing at Thiepval is the largest commonwealth memorial to the missing. Over 72,000 names of missing service men are inscribed on the monument. All went missing during the Battle of the Somme in 1917. Emma sang at the Royal British Legion’s ceremony on 1stJuly, 102 years after the start of the Battle of the Somme.
Singing for the Royal British Legion’s Cyclists’ arrival in Thiepval. The cyclists travelled from London to Ypres, raising over £45,000 for the Royal British Legion. Emma sang for their arrival at the CWGC memorial to the missing at Thiepval, France.
My last ceremony in Normandy this year was for the victims of the First World War. Twenty-nine young men, boys even, from the tiny and idyllic village of Grangues are remembered on a memorial next to the village church. It was poignant to commemorate them, especially with so many D-Day veterans present. Grangues, Normandy, France.
A ceremony for those killed at Grangues in a tragic mix-up, held by the memorial with the people of the village and the Taxi Veterans party. After mistaking the River Orne for the River Dives, two Stirling planes were shot down close to the castle at Grangues. Shortly afterwards, two Horsa gliders crashed in the grounds of the castle. The survivors were shot rather than taken as prisoners of war. Grangues, Normandy, France.
D-Day veteran Patrick Thomas was on landing craft LHC185 looking for survivors of HMS Swift when the landing craft was sunk by an Acoustic Mine. He saw his friend, Jack Barringer, drown. Archaeologist John Henry Philips located the landing craft, arranged for a monument to be built, and contacted the relatives of Jack Barringer to introduce them to Patrick. It was a very moving ceremony and Patrick unveiled the monument himself. Lion sur Mer, Normandy, France.
The British ceremony in Arromanches. All were invited to lay wreaths and say the names of those who they wished to commemorate. Normandy, France.
Singing during the wreath laying at CWGC Bayeux Cemetery. Normandy, France.
Singing “I vow to thee my county” during the Royal British Legion’s D-Day remembrance service at Bayeux Cathedral. Normandy, France.
Singing during the Midnight Ceremony at the bust of Major John Howard. Major Howard led the glider landings in the night of 6th June. He visited the site with his men after the war and recounted the story of the glider landings. Today, a recording of his speech is played and a toast is held to commemorate the glider crews. Bénouville, Normandy, France.
With Reginald Charles at the Mayor of Bénouville’s veterans’ dinner. Reginald served in France, Holland, and Germany during the Second World War, including the Normandy Campaign and the Battle of the Bulge. Bénouville, Normandy, France.
The ashes of Paratrooper Ronald Tucker were scattered at Merville Battery on his request. Tucker’s life was saved by a crucifix in his pocket, off which a bullet richoched. He was the last survivor from his regiment, and the last D-Day veteran from Teeside. In his own words, he was the “Last of the rear party – joining the main battalion, at last with my brothers.” Normandy, France.
In Bréville les Monts. The townsfolk visit monuments to the Highlanders, the Princess Irene Brigade (Netherlands), the 9th Parachute Battalion, and the 6th British Airborne Division before visiting the CWGC graves nestled among the civilian graves in their churchyard. Bréville les Monts, Normandy, France.
Singing for the 9th (Eastern and Home Counties) Parachute Battalion ceremony in Gonneville en Auge. They landed around Gonneville en Auge and managed to silence the Merville Gun Battery, thus assisting the British landings at Sword Beach. Their dog, Glen, was killed in the fighting. He is buried with his handler at CWGC Ranville. Gonneville en Auge, Normandy, France.
Singing at CWGC Ranville cemetery for the veterans travelling with D-Day revisited. Ray Shuck landed in Ranville on 6th June and was shot in the head. He was given last rites in a nearby church. He was fortunate and survived his injury and woke up in England some time later. He asked a nurse “Parlez-vous Anglais?” and she replied “Of course I do, you daft bugger!” Ray returned to Ranville this year to visit his comrades in the CWGC cemetery. Ranville, Normandy, France.
With Victor Urch in Colleville-Montgomery. It’s always wonderful to reunite with the veterans following the ceremonies. Colleville-Montgomery, Normandy, France.
After the Spirit of Normandy Trust’s ceremony at Colleville-Montgomery, a seaside town named after General Montgomery. Colleville-Montgomery, Normandy, France.
Singing at the Glider Stones by Pegasus Bridge for the 2nd Battalion The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Sixteen minutes into D-Day, five gliders landed in this small field by the Caen Canal. The sixth missed its target. All six gliders are commemorated by the stones. Ranville, Normandy, France.
With Susan Patton, descendant of General Patton, just before the ceremony at the ABMC US cemetery in Colleville sur Mer. Normandy, France.
Singing for the Native American ceremony at the US ceremony in Colleville sur Mer. Many Native Americans volunteered to fight in the Second World War, even though they had few rights in the U.S. The ceremony combined Christian and Native American traditions. Veteran Charles Shay of the Penobscot Tribe was present. He was a medic who landed on Omaha Beach. Colleville sur Mer, Normandy, France.
The RAF Second Tactical Air force landed on Omaha Beach on 6th June, 1944, to provide ground-controlled radar protection for the American troops landing on Omaha Beach. Vierville sur Mer had one of the few roads in land. Other troops landing on Omaha Beach had to scale cliffs. Vierville sur Mer, Normandy, France.
Singing for the parade in Carentan, with members of the cast of Band of Brothers who were visiting Normandy to meet D-Day veterans. Carentan was strategically vital for securing the landing points at Utah Beach and Omaha Beach and moving inland. Carentan, Normandy, France.
With Commando Patrick Churchill at Vierville sur Mer, a pretty village overlooking Omaha Beach. Patrick landed on June Beach Normandy in 1944. He looked contemplative as he stared out to sea. Vierville sur Mer, Normandy, France.
Singing for British veterans in Heteren, the Netherlands, on Dutch Remembrance Day, 4th May, 2018. The veterans were traveling with the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans.
Singing during the 30,011th Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium. Lieutenant Colonel Christophe Onraet, Military Commander of West Flanders, lays a wreath to commemorate the Tanks Regiment.
“Nearer My God to Thee”
Words: Sarah Flower Adams, music: “Bethany” Lowell Mason
15th April, 2018
To mark the centenary of the Fourth Battle of Ypres, a service was held at St. George’s Memorial Church, Ypres. St. George’s was designed by Reginald Blom, who also designed the Menin Gate. The service focused on commemorating the members of the Tank Corps.
“Only Remembered,” Horatius Bonar and Stephen Quigg
Amazing Grace during the commemorations of the Battle of Arras at the Wellington Tunnels (Carriére Wellington), Arras.
The Island of Ireland Peace Park commemorates the Irish who died and went missing during the First World War. It is also a symbol of peace between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, since it was opened by both HM Queen Elizabeth II and President McAleese and it displays a peace pledge. Emma sang “Londonderry Air” (above) and “Abide with Me” during the Remembrance Day ceremony.
On 12th September, Emma sang for the remembrance ceremony of Stichting Nederland-America in the ABMC cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands, to commemorate those who participated in the Second World War. She sang “Abide with Me” and “How Great thou Art.”
Singing “How Great Thou Art” for American, Dutch, Canadian, and British World War Two Veterans at the ABMC cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands, commemorating the Second World War. There are over 8,000 burials at the imposing Margraten war cemetery.
A First World War canon is fired in Passchendaele, Belgium, 100 years to the minute since the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele.
O Valiant Hearts, Poem: Sir John Stanhope Arkwright, Music: Rev. Dr. Charles Harris, with the Royal Symphonic Band of the Belgian Air Force, Conductor Captain Matty Cilissen
During this song, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission let 20,000 poppy petals flutter down from the gate.
A setting of John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” by John Jacobson and Roger Emerson, arranged for the Royal Belgian Airforce Orchestra by Deputy Conductor Dominique Lecomte. From the ninetieth anniversary of the Commonwealth War Graves’ Commission Menin Gate.
“Blow the Wind Southerly” during the Royal British Legion’s Ceremony of Remembrance for those who fought in the Battle of the Somme.
A film of veteran Danny McCrudden singing to Emma.
“I vow to thee my country” during the Royal British Legion’s Ceremony of Remembrance in Bayeux Cathedral, France, on D-Day 2017.