The Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, November 12th 2023.
Under a leaden grey sky, with rain ever threatening, hundreds of spectators gathered to witness the Remembrance Sunday Service. Their chatter was abruptly interrupted at precisely 1030hrs by the tones of a Royal Marine Marching band. Typically, both note and step perfect as they paraded into the Square in front of the Guildhall steps. They were followed by a Parade of service personnel representing the Royal Navy, Army and Airforce as well as by several youth organisations.
Standing witness, in an area assigned to those laying wreaths, on the northeastern corner of the steps was Assistant Provincial Grandmaster Chris Bayliss. He was accompanied by representatives of several lodges, all wearing masonic collars.
The service parade being in position, the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Senior Armed Forces representatives and the MPs for Portsmouth, processed onto the steps.
1050hrs marked the start of the Veterans march, they were accompanied by their own marching band and their column was led by a host of standard bearers. They entered the Square to the sound of applause.
1059hrs precisely and silence in the square was broken by a solo bugler delivering The Last Post.
1100hrs was marked by the tolling of the bells, and then silence.
1102hrs The remembrance service began.
The conclusion of the morning’s events was a wreath-laying service at the Cenotaph, at which the presence of the APGM and other lodge representatives was highly visible, as were the many wreaths that were laid by them.
The ceremony and service were conducted, as one would expect, in a very dignified manner, and the Masonic presence made by our APGM and the other lodge representatives has further served to raise the profile of Freemasonry in the South East of our Province.