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Remembering those who gave their lives ... and Arnhem

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People who gathered for the parade and service at Donington church. (4506957)
People who gathered for the parade and service at Donington church. (4506957)

There were some moving scenes in Donington as people came together for a remembrance service for the 1st Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers.

The service was very well attended by veterans who saw active service in various theatres of war including World War Two, Suez, Aden and the Falklands.

Families of the veterans and many local residents took part in the parade led by the piper, Allan Prebble.

Alan has played at the service for several years now. taking over the role from his father David Prebble, who was a teacher in Spalding.

This year the Royal British Legion Lincolnshire county standard bearer was Alan Canham.

Alan presented the standard to the Vicar of St Mary and The Holy Rood, the Rev Charles Robertson, who then placed it on the altar for the duration of the service.

The church fell silent as the congregation heard the names of the fallen of the 1st Parachute Squadron read out by Tom Gilks.

Bugler Katy Jeffery, a Donington resident, played Last Post and Reveille, followed by the piper playing the squadron lament - bringing back memories for the veterans who heard the bagpipes being played on the battlefields.

During the service several hymns, including O Valiant Hearts and Land of Hope and Glory, were sung and the Airborne Prayer was read aloud.

The end of the service inside the church was marked by the singing of the National Anthem.

Outside at the memorial beneath the Arnhem Oak, which was brought back as a sapling from the battlefields, a very moving service was then held for the interment of Lieutenant Peter Stainforth’s ashes.

Lieutenant Peter Stainforth in uniform. (4506952)
Lieutenant Peter Stainforth in uniform. (4506952)

Peter, who sadly passed away last December, served in World War Two in North Africa, Sicily and Arnhem.

Veterans and relatives then had a traditional toast for Peter and all the other men who served their country.

The event then moved to the church hall for refreshments and there was much reminiscing of events during the time the men were billeted in Donington from December 1943 to September 1944.

One talking point for those exchanging stories was the interview on social media and a local television station appearance of the veteran Tom Hicks (99), who returned to Arnhem for the commemorations.

Next year’s event marks the 75th anniversary of Arnhem and will be held on Sunday, September 29.

l If anyone has any stories or photos to share about the Parachute Regiment’s time in Lincolnshire, please email them to finchedward@hotmail.com.

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