Fulham's Marcus Bettinelli and Cauley Woodrow joined local school children at Fulham Cemetery this week to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in World Wars I & II.The activity is one of a number of visits being undertaken by EFL clubs this month as part of the Living Memory remembrance project.
The remembrance ceremony, led by Fulham Chaplain Reverend Gary Piper, included presentations and poems on the Battle of the Somme read out by Year 6 pupils from Sir John Lillie Primary School.
The pupils researched the Battle of the Somme, which ended 100 years ago this month, as part of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Living Memory project which equips communities in the British Isles with the resources to discover, explore and remember the soldiers commemorated in UK cemeteries.
More than 19,000 British soldiers lost their lives on the very first day of the battle fought in northern France. It would be come to be known as the bloodiest conflict in British Military History and some of the graves at Fulham Cemetery belong to soldiers who fought at the Somme.
Britain is only second to France as a final resting place for those who died serving their country in two world wars. There are 300,000 CWGC war graves and memorials in the UK spread across 13,000 sites.
Remembering all the CWGC war graves, of which 238 are located at Fulham Cemetery, is an important and appropriate mark of respect for the centenary of the Somme. The ceremony concluded with a prayer, the last post and a period of silence prior to the laying of poppy wreaths.
London Manager of the Living Memory project, Dan Hill, said: “Fulham itself has a fascinating history relating to the Great War.
"Not only was it home to troops billeted here throughout the war, but it was also home to two military hospitals.
"We’re very pleased to visit Fulham Cemetery to take part in the living memory project which is an initiative put together by the commonwealth war graves commission to get people, students, community groups, club foundations and clubs themselves to actually engage with the public and to visit their own local war graves.”
Reverend Gary Piper, Fulham Chaplain, said: “It’s important to realise how much suffering went on so I think it’s really important that we do remember the brave soldiers. The ceremony at Fulham Cemetery is a great way to unite our local community and pay our respects.
"I visited the bomber command memorial on Armistice Day two years ago and there was a card there from a relative of a member of the bomber crew who went out and didn’t come back. The oldest person in the crew was 23 years old. The rest were just lads. They were younger than some of the guys playing for Fulham at the moment and their lives were taken.”
Fulham goalkeeper, Marcus Bettinelli, said: “It’s an opportunity for us to reflect and to show our gratitude and respect for everything our brave soldiers did for the freedom we enjoy, and sometimes take for granted, today.
"The children spoke and read out lovely poems and visiting the war graves is really moving. What we do compared to what they’ve done is nothing so it’s only right to say thank you and show our respects."
Fulham striker Cauley Woodrow added: “It’s really important that Marcus and I visited the cemetery and met with children from a local primary school.
"It was really moving and for us to show our appreciation to all the soldiers who lost their lives in battle. It’s been a hundred years since the Battle of the Somme took place and it’s essential we remember the sacrifices made by so many, for what we have today.
"This information needs to be passed on to future generations so we don’t forget. It was particularly pleasing to see so many young children take part.”
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