Scottish War Blinded Member Makes Poignant Journey of Commemoration

Posted: 02/12/2014 | Scottish War Blinded

Scottish War Blinded member Dick Barbor-Might represented Scottish War Blinded at a wreath laying ceremony at Victoria Station, London on Monday 10 November 2014.

The ceremony proved poignant for Dick who stood on the same platform his father had 94 years earlier who was involved in the logisitical operations for the the burial of the Unknown Soldier.

Dick describes his experience: 

scottish war blinded member makes poignant journey of commemoration"If you go to Platform 8 at London’s Victoria Station you will find a plaque that records that the train carrying the body of the Unknown Soldier arrived there on the evening of November 10th 1920. 

"The following day, November 11th, the Unknown Soldier was buried in Westminster Abbey.  The tomb at once became the focus of the intense grief felt by the families of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who had been posted as missing in action and for whom there was no known grave. For weeks following the solemn ceremony on November 11th queues of people waiting to view the tomb stretched for several miles from the Abbey’s doors. 

"Every year on November 10th the Western Front Association commemorates the arrival of the Unknown Soldier at Platform 8.  This year I was there as a wreath layer, escorted by Graham Shephardly from the Association and representing Scottish War Blinded.  The words on the wreath included this poignant reminder of all those who suffered through wounds and trauma: Bring healing, Lord, to those who, through their service, bear conflict’s scars on body or in mind.

"It was the most moving of ceremonies, highlighting the playing of the Last Post and the laying of wreaths, the first one on behalf of the Queen and the last being laid by Walter Hart.  In 1940 he had been one of the thousands in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) who were not evacuated at Dunkirk but, pursued by the advancing German armies, retreated westwards until they could be taken off by waiting ships at St Nazaire.  There he witnessed the bombing and sinking of the Lancastria, with thousands of his fellow soldiers being killed before his eyes.  Four years later he was back in France, at the D-Day landings. 

"During the First World War my father, Leo Thomas Barbor-Might, had served on the Western Front in the Royal West Kents.  On November 10th 1920, by now a civil servant, he was at Victoria Station to meet the morning train from Dover Harbour, receiving the 50 sandbags of soil collected from different Western Front battlefields in which the Unknown Soldier was to be buried.  He then oversaw the safe delivery of the soil to the Abbey.  The next day, November 11th, he was at the Cenotaph along with thousands of others, waiting for the gun carriage bearing the coffin of the Unknown Soldier to appear out of the autumnal mist in Whitehall.  As my father wrote in a memoir, he was remembering his own dead comrades.

"So many suffered and perished on all sides in those two world wars, civilians as well as combatants.  We will remember them."