Coventry will celebrate Armed Forces Day next week – and people are being urged to go along to show their support and say thank-you.
Coventry will be holding a service at Holy Trinity Church, followed by a city centre parade, next week as it joins cities around the UK in marking Armed Forces Day on Saturday, 29 June.
Ray Calcott, retired Chairman of the Royal Naval Association, will be one of those taking part, conducting a reading during the Church Service on behalf of the ex-service community.
The day is one that is very special to Ray, as he remembers former comrades. As a 20-year-old Able Seaman in the Royal Navy, he was one of those who served in the Yangtze Incident in 1949.
He said: “Over the years I fear people tend to forget what our Forces do for the nation, some who served like to feel they are able to recall and remember the men and women who fought and died for their country, particularly when they are at the church service.
“I visit the Arboretum at Alrewas where we have a memorial for the men who died in the last action I was in. I sit on one of the benches and try to remember the friends and shipmates who could have been sitting with me but didn’t make it.
“I remember visiting the naval museum in Devonport Dockyard with my wife, a group of people was looking at some photographs of wounded men on stretchers on the ground waiting for treatment and one of them said ‘I wonder if we will ever meet the man who helped to save our dad?’,I kept quiet, but my wife couldn’t contain herself and said ‘He’s right behind you’. What a coincidence!
“Since then I have tried to attend all the services to do with the Forces it gives me time to reflect and be thankful.”
The Yangtze Incident took place during the civil war in China, when HMS Amethyst was ordered to sail the Yangtze River to act as a guardship for the British Embassy in Nanjing, but came under fire from Communist artillery.
It ran aground and was stranded for several days before managing to break free and reach safety. During the incident, 17 members of the crew were killed and 19 men seriously wounded, including two who later died from their injuries, Captain Bernard Skinner and Able Seaman Winters.
Ray has joined Lord Mayor Cllr Linda Bigham in urging the people of Coventry to show their support next week.
On Saturday, the Armed Forces Day flag will be raised on Coventry’s Council House to mark the occasion.
The service at Holy Trinity Church in the city centre will begin at 10.30am, led by the Reverend Graeme Anderson. The service is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.
The parade will follow the service, with the Lord Mayor taking the salute at the Lady Godiva Statue in Broadgate. Serving members and veterans from the British Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force will attend the day along with their families.