The Great War, I was there - Part 48

355* November II, 1920 When the CENOTAPH Was UNVEILED I Stood in The Hushed Crowds James Bone by The distinguished London editor of the Manchester Guardian, Mr. James Bone, was present at the Cenotaph on the day when the national memorial was unveiled by King George V. The ceremony was combined with the burial in Westminster Abbey of the Unknown Warrior, and Mr. Bone here movingly describes the incidents which took place in Whitehall on that historic occasion Today ,lie, the man from Franco, does not stare wildly round before dashing through the barrier where someone waits crying for him. He is met, but by personages so great, so far above him, that when he was alive they were like figures in mythology to him perhaps lie never even saw one of them except projected on the screens in some picture palace. They are the men he made jokes about, felt a vague, strong, histrionic devotion for the men on whose plans depended from day today his own chances of life. They are drawn up now in salute, two lines of six— six admirals atone side, six generals at the other—and between them he is being borne on the gun-carriage. We know you well, dear comrade. We know that to you these honours would seem the most gigantic of jokes if they were paid to yourself. Your guffaws would burst a coffin. But you understand us. It is hundreds and hundreds of thousands we are honouring in your person. Because you are nameless and were forgotten we chose you. You represent them all. The coffin, under its Union Jack, is borne on the shoulders often men, their feet moving with the unanimous shuffle- of a many-legged insect, and gently deposited on the gun-carriage. Behind the bodyguard marches slow­ly a curious, miscellaneous procession —top-hatted, pot-hatted men, some in soft hats, some in caps, some tall, some short, some maimed, some sturdy, some pale and ill, some with many ribbons on their coats, some with only a badge. They are discharged soldiers. Indifferent ways—in dislocated lives, in shell-shock and injuries, in nerve- strain and lost opportunities—they, too. have paid. They offered their lives other things were taken from them instead. As the dark procession became ap­parent out of the haze of Whitehall at the Horse Guards there was gathered 1929 to meet it at the Cenotaph an assembly representative of the Empire. With the King at the head, all turned to face the unknown body on the gun-carriage. Behind the King stood the Princes, and a gathering representing the s!ates- men of England and the Dominions, as well as the Forces and all the Churches. The Cenotaph with the Union Jack on the coffin, came straight on and turned athwart the street opposite the King, who with all the officers present stood at the salute, the pal 1-bearers, all Admirals, Generals and Fiekl-Marshals, falling into online the north. The music had stopped and there was a pause. Then the King stepped forward with a wreath and placed it on the coffin beside the steel helmet. Then the choir sang,“ 0 God, our help in ages past,” and another pause and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s voice was heard reciting the Lord’s Prayer, in which the King and the people joined. The King then turned south and, touching a mechanism on the road, un­veiled the Cenotaph, the two great Union Jacks falling to the ground with a tiny cloud of dust, settling in two coloured masses at the base. The Cenotaph, its new Portland stone a pale lemon, rose before us naked and beautiful, focusing the growing light that was coming through the mist, and seemed taller than its model because of the great Union Jacks that veiled it. Sir Edwin L u ty ens stood near it in another comp any of officials .The crowd filled every inch of the pave­ment, packed close and orderly like slates on a roof. So it was as far as the eye could see till the curtain of mist d e s c end ed, a hundred yards on, and shutout the rest of the world from the cere- mon y a t the Cenotaph. The Assembly at the Cenotaph was now inexact formation, leaving a great open space. The Foot Guards at a certain dis­tance began a beautiful swerve which took them to the west of the Cenotaph, which they passed and fell into position on the Abbey side. The gun-carriage. THE CHIEF MOURNER In this page Mr. James Bone describes tiie arrival of the body of the Unknown Warrior at the Cenotaph, where it was met by representatives of the Empire with the King at the head. King George V, witli the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, is here seen following the gun-carriage to Westminster Abbey as the Empire’s chief mourner. Photopress #
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