Remembrance Day poignant for returning east London soldiers

REMEMBRANCE Day will be particularly poignant this year for two east London soldiers who have recently returned from tours of Afghanistan.

Major Richard Celm and Major Tony McGrath will be marching at various parades on Sunday with their Territorial Army soldiers from The London Regiment and 256 (City of London) Field Hospital (D Squadron).

The main Remembrance Sunday service for the borough will be a parade through Poplar and Millwall with the Royal British Legion followed by a service at St Leonard’s Memorial.

Services will also be held at the Museum in London Docklands and the Town Hall in Mulberry Place on November 11 itself.

Major Richard Celm - a 38-year-old small business consultant of Wapping - returned from helping train the Afghan National Army last month. He said: “There will be three groups of people I am thinking ofthis Remembrance Sunday. Firstly, the friends I made that are still out there, not just British troops but the coalition forces too. Secondly, the people that have died in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq including friends from the Royal Gurkhas who passed away this year. People we trained with also died so I will be remembering them and lastly, people that were in past wars and fought for freedom.

“When you are in the Army, you are always aware of the sacrifice others have given for freedom and I often think about these people.”

Major Tony McGrath is the Officer Commanding of D Squadron, 256 (City of London) Field Hospital (V) based in Mile End Road.

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The Royal London nurse returned in February from a six-month deployment in Afghanistan when he was based in the Camp Bastion Field Hospital during one of its busiest and bloodiest ever periods.

He will march with the rest of D squadron at the parade on November 14. He said Remembrance Day was an opportunity to reflect on past and current conflicts and remember people who have given the ultimate sacrifice from being a soldier. McGrath, 47, said: “Coming from the east end, it is important to me to remember the massive input other communities gave during the First and Second World War, like the Indian Army.

“The Royal British Legion do so much work not only with looking after older men who have fought but injured soldiers from our time who need physcological and physical help. It is so important to wear a poppy to keep it in people’s minds. “I think their work has come to people’s attention more again because of the situation in Afghanistan over the last few years. Young people thought poppies were for their grandparent’s war but now it has changed as the current conflict gets more and more attention and we hear about injured soldiers.”