turning in the Arrivals Hall of Lisbon airport on Friday 8th November when a
Chelsea Pensioner walked through in his scarlet uniform. Chelsea Pensioner Brian Cumming MBE had arrived
from London to take part in Remembrance ceremonies, both Portuguese and
of Saturday 9th it was off to the fort at Belém, headquarters of
Portugal´s Liga dos Combatentes. This
organisation is Portugal´s equivalent to The Royal British Legion and actually
predates it. For its main Ceremony of
Remembrance delegates arrive from all over Portugal and members representing
all their Armed Forces are on parade.
|Brian Cumming MBE with General Joaquim Chito Rodrigues|
arrival Brian was received by General Joaquim Chito Rodrigues, President of the
Liga and presented him with a Fraternal letter from the Governor of the Royal
Hospital Chelsea, the home of the Chelsea Pensioners. General Chito in turn presented Brian with a
signed book and a commemorative medal before taking him out on to the parade
ground. As the various dignitaries
arrived, the troops on parade presented arms and were then inspected by the
General Chief of Staff. Speeches ensued,
medals and decorations were presented and then it was time to lay the wreaths in
memory of the fallen.
by the Lisbon representative of The Royal British Legion lay his wreath, and it was a
proud moment seeing this gentleman in scarlet marching up to do so. With the wreath laying completed, the march past began and it was
impressive that there were so many standards carried emanating from so many
different parts of Portugal.
|Brian with Mark Hanmer from the Royal British Legion |
and Carol Mason from the Royal Hospital Chelsea
At the end
of it all, despite the many high ranking officers, dignitaries, ministers and
others being present, everyone wanted to photograph or be photographed with the
afternoon programme saw Brian going to tea with the residents of The British
Retirement Home in São Pedro do Estoril.
He gave them a short talk on life at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and how
he came to be part of it all and then made time to speak to everyone present
individually. The residents greatly enjoyed having him there and apparently spoke about his scarlet uniform for
was the day for the British Service of Remembrance at St. George´s Anglican
Church in Lisbon, which is always very well attended and included diplomats,
members of different Armed Forces serving with NATO, Portuguese delegates, and of course many members of the local community. Fortunately again it was dry
and sunny as everyone gathered round the Memorial Cross for the laying of
wreaths before the Church service. 11 wreaths were laid, Brian laid his on behalf of the Royal Hospital
Chelsea. Two minutes silence were observed and buglers from the Exército played
their versions of the Last Post and
Reveille. An uplifting service then took place in the church where the Chaplain
had several assistants and the Church of Scotland Minister gave the
Sermon. It was particularly nice that
six young children were asked to give readings which they did beautifully.
|British Service of Remembrance at |
St. George's Anglican Church, Lisbon
|Brian laying a wreath at the British Service of Remembrance|
in the sunshine, Brian was approached by
the Chefe of the Bombeiros Voluntários de Lisboa to lay their wreath on the
grave of Darlaston Shore, an Englishman who was a founder of their organisation
and is buried at St. George´s. In the
meantime, Colonel Faustino Hilário, representing the Liga dos Combatentes, was
so impressed that a Chelsea Pensioner had come over to Lisbon that he promptly
took off his Liga tie and presented it to Brian as a memento!
Embassy kindly invited everyone present at St. George´s back to the Embassy for
a reception, hosted by the Deputy Head of Mission, Joanna Kuenssberg
O´Sullivan. The lovely grounds of the
Residence were the perfect setting for
everyone of all ages to socialise and enjoy the plentiful food and drink. Jo introduced Brian and he entertained
everyone with tales of his life as a Chelsea Pensioner. All in all, it was a memorable day.
being Armistice Day, it was fitting that Brian went to visit a class of 11 year
olds at the International Preparatory School.
They had been studying World War II, the reasons for Remembrance Sunday
and so on, and were full of questions to ask a Chelsea Pensioner - though on
arrival a few younger children thought he might have been Father Christmas come
Lunch by the
sea then it was back to Blighty for an old soldier. He had a marvellous visit, and was
overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitality shown to him. Special thanks must go to The Royal British
Club who sponsored his air fare and to Mark Hanmer, the Lisbon representative
of The Royal British Legion who organised his programme.
Labels: Chelsea Pensioner, Liga dos Combatentes, Portugal, Royal British Legion, Royal Hospital Chelsea
One of the busiest times of year at the Royal Hospital Chelsea is the period of Remembrance. As well as participating in high profile events, such as the Festival of Remembrance
and marching on the cenotaph
, the Chelsea Pensioners travel far and wide to attend Remembrance Services across the globe.
Many travel to their home town, whilst others travel to new places such as Bahrain and Portugal. All do so as volunteers and ambassadors for the Royal Hospital Chelsea, remembering those that they have lost along the way.
Below you can see where they travelled this year.
|Chelsea Pensioners attending Remembrance Services 2013|
If you would like to find out more about the Chelsea Pensioners, or to make a donation to to show your support, you can do so here
Labels: Bahrain, Chelsea Pensioner, Chelsea Pensioners, Festival of Remembrance, marching on the cenotaph, Portugal, Remembrance 2013, Royal Hospital Chelsea