|Brian Everett MBE, President of the|
London Transport Old Comrades Association
ahead of Peter Orchard, Wreath Layer,
and the TfL contingent formed up
ready to march off.
The veterans are welcomed to 55 Broadway for breakfast early on Sunday morning. Not all are able to march but can watch the whole service on a large screen in our Board Room (in the company of portraits of our founders Lord Ashfield and Frank Pick). Those who are able go to the briefing before assembling in the foyer for photographs.
Peter Orchard, a former Navy man who served on HMS Antrim during the Falklands conflict, was our wreath layer. Peter works for me in Surface Transport in East London as an Area Manager.
At precisely 1015 those who are marching assemble in Queen Anne's Gate and are called to order by Bob Lawrence, former Emergency Planning Manager at London Underground. With the veterans called to attention I am required to address them and finally, in a carefully choreographed military fashion, give permission for them to march off to the Cenotaph.
The right to march past the Cenotaph was granted to the London General Omnibus Company in 1917 by King George V. Some 900 buses and their drivers were requisitioned to drive troops to the front in World War 1 and bring back the wounded. This was astonishingly dangerous and the drivers were reputedly 'volunteered' without choice. In recognition of their bravery the King bestowed the right to march and so the LGOC became the only civilian organisation able to do so. This right transferred through London Transport and to TfL.
On return the veterans march back to Queen Anne's Gate where I receive them. Once again Bob Lawrence approaches, announces that the men have completed their duty, and asks me for permission for them to be dismissed, which of course, I give.
All are then reunited for lunch at 55 Broadway and an afternoon of old friendships, reminiscences, and reflection.
Until next year....