Tears were shed as a packed Sheffield crowd gathered in Barker’s Pool for the best-attended Remembrance Day service in years.
More than 1,000 people formed around the war memorial – so many that not everyone could even see the marching soldiers and veterans.
Applause filled the air as the parade halted in the square, where bright sunshine cast shadows across the paving, before the two minute’s silence.
“Citizens of Sheffield, let us remember before God and commend to his sure keeping in Christ those who have died for this country in war, those we knew and whose memories we treasure,” said Rev Alan Isaacson, Rector at Bradfield who was leading the service as this year’s Lord Mayor’s Chaplain.
There was a slight breeze as poppy wreaths were laid by Lord Mayor Coun Vickie Priestley and civic dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, Master Cutler and service representatives.
Vince McDonagh, secretary of Sheffield Joint Council of Ex-Service Associations, read the Kohima Epitaph: “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today.”
The service was the first since the death in September of former Joint Council president and Burma Star veteran Fred Powell, aged 92, of High Green, who had organised the service since the 1980s.
Rev Isaacson said: “I haven’t attended the civic event before as I am normally at the one in my parish but it was my privilege to take the service on behalf of the Lord Mayor.”
Among the youngest at the service was five-year-old William Mullins, of Wadsley Bridge, who wore World War One medals belonging to his great great grandfather William Powell, who was stationed at Hillsborough Barracks.
Robert Wilson, 25, from Handsworth, has just left the Army after eight years with Fifth Battalion The Rifles, during which he served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The former Rifleman said: “I lost friends on those operational tours. I am here to remember not only them but also everyone from the older generations who have served their country.
“It’s great that so many people are here to show respect.”
Former Royal Lancers Staff Sergeant Dave Hallewell, 47, also of Handsworth, wearing medals from service in Cyprus and Bosnia, added: “I did 23 years and during that period, eight friends were lost on operations.
“I come here every year _ it’s a mark of respect for everyone.”
Retired Royal Engineers Sergeant Major Joe Hallam, 63, of Halfway, said he has been attending at Barker’s Pool on Remembrance Day since the mid-1990s.
He said: “I was 30 years in the regs – I served in Germany, Canada, five tours of Northern Ireland and in the Falklands.
“I was on mine clearance and demolitions helping on the approach to retake Stanley.”
Jamie Cullen, 25, of Norton, a former submariner in the Royal Navy, said: “There are a few family members who served including my great great grandfather, Captain AGF Elwood, who was in World War One with the Sherwood Foresters.”
Frailty and old age did not stop sick and elderly military veterans from attending – with many in wheelchairs and scooters in a special enclosure.
Eric Colley, 86, from Norfolk Park, said: “I have been coming here for 40 years. We have to keep the Remembrance tradition alive.”
And a stroke did not prevent former Sergeant Edward McDermott, from Firth Park, from attending with his wife.
“We’ve been coming here 29 years,” he said.
The service was also poignant for politicians attending.
Burngreave city councillor Jackie Drayton said: “I always think of my dad Frank Cooper, who died three years ago, and was on minesweepers in the Mediterranean in World War Two.”
Civic ceremonies also took place yesterday in Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Chesterfield.
There were also smaller events including a service at the York and Lancaster Regimental Memorial in Weston Park, attended by veterans and Sheffield University Officer Training Corps.
And in Shiregreen Cemetery, Ann Fellows and Nicolette Williams – whose sons Royal Marine Lance Corporal Jamie Fellows and Senior Aircraftman Christopher Bridge were killed in Afghanistan – organised a service at the new war memorial they raised money to have built.
Nicolette said: “We were honoured so many people came along, there were about 100. We had scouts and several ex-Royal Marines who had come because of Jamie. Christopher’s unit are in Afghanistan.”