Shock and anger that no officials turned up at memorial on Armistice Day
Nearly 100 people who turned up to pay their respects at the Leamington War Memorial on Tuesday were shocked to discover no civic dignitaries, no clock chimes to mark the 11th hour and no trumpeter to play the Last Post.
Only a standard bearer from the Royal Naval Association stood before the Euston Place memorial on Armistice Day.
The reality was that civic dignitaries were all in nearby Jephson Gardens for the unveiling of the new First World War statue.
But there was no sign to let anyone know - and many people contacted the Courier to express their anger.
Among the crowd was a pre-school class who had made the trip to learn more about World War One.
Sally Hunt, a former military policewoman, who served in Northern Ireland and now works in Leamington, was also there. She said: “The whole event was a total embarrassment. The town hall clock didn’t chime so he began lowering the flag at what most of us agreed was 11am and we all observed the two minutes. Then we all looked at one another and went off. It was appalling really - nobody said a word.”
War memorial campaigner David Bradshaw, who fought to get names added to the Warwick roll of honour, agreed.
Mr Bradshaw said: “I was absolutely disgusted by the lack of respect in Leamington.
“I’m now told they were at another event in Jepshon Gardens - but does that mean no one from the town hall was available to pay their respects to the dead of two world wars and conflicts that are still going on today?”
Richard Ashley was also there and he described the councillors’ decision not to go to the war memorial as “appalling and extremely insensitive”.
Both Leamington Town Council and Warwick District Council released a joint statement saying that they “understand the annoyance that some people may have felt at finding no formal recognition of the two minutes silence at the war memorial”.
The statement went on to say: “Given that it was the centenary of the outbreak of World War One it was perhaps predictable that people may have expected something to have taken place at Euston Place. Leamington Town Council has always supported and funded a significant annual public ceremony at Euston Place on the Sunday nearest to November 11. This is well publicised and known to as many people and groups as possible.
“The observance on November 11 itself has always been very minimal and consists of the Leamington mayor, accompanied by representatives from The Royal British Legion, attending at the memorial, reading the exhortation and observing two minutes respectful silence.
“This event is not publicised, over the years the practice has probably become convention and a small but significant number of people look forward to this element of remembrance. At the request of the British Legion this element of the annual remembrance was combined with the World War One centenary sculpture dedication ceremony, a one-off event which took place at Jephson Gardens, hence there was no Leamington Town Council and British Legion presence at Euston Place. This ceremony will return to its usual place at the War Memorial next year.”