Armed Forces Day has a special poignancy this year. The date, Saturday, 28 June, is 100 years to the day since the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo. Five weeks later, the First World War had begun.
Many thousands of Tameside men joined the colours between 1914 and 1918. After the outbreak of hostilities they volunteered in huge numbers and after 1916 were conscripted. In 1939 the process began all over again. The Second World War started and the people of our borough were not found wanting.
I’m sure that you, like me, are deeply impressed by the service our men and women have shown for so many years and which they have continued to display on more recent operations in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, a great many of them made the ultimate sacrifice, a fact to which our many war memorials attest.
For these reasons I would like to invite you to show your appreciation by attending our Armed Forces Day events in Victoria Park, Denton, which have been organised with support from the Ministry of Defence.
They start at 11am tomorrow (28 June) when there will be a short service of remembrance at the war memorial. Then, from 1pm, there will be a huge variety of free family-friendly activities around the bandstand including live music. Military vehicles will be on display in the near-by civic square.
There will also be a chance to see Joey, from the National Theatre’s production of “War Horse”, who will oversee the awarding of the Veterans Badge to WO2 Andrew Headen (103 Regiment, Royal Artillery) who has been in the army for 22 years.
Hopefully the recent good weather will continue until Saturday, so please come and join us in Victoria Park and show your support for Tameside’s servicemen and women – past and present.