Remembrance Day Service
Bereavement Services holds an annual service on each Remembrance Day, 11th November, starting at 10.45am* to incorporate two minutes silence at 11.00am. It is held whatever the weather - we know that however great our discomfort, it is nothing compared to what these brave men suffered and troops everywhere are still suffering. This is usually followed by tea or coffee in the Top Chapel to warm us up!
Everyone is welcome and what better, more poignant place to remember?
Over the years since the Second World War Jack Eglington and Gordon King of the Light Infantry Association of Bath had made a habit of meeting beside the Commonwealth War Graves section to remember lost colleagues, and their number had grown to a small informal gathering keeping the silence in this place where young men lie.
Independently of that gathering, a member of his congregation approached our local minister to ask whether he would conduct a service beside the war grave section at Haycombe. He in turn approached Bereavement Service staff who were happy to assist and after discussion it was decided that this event should also include remembrance of the casualties of the Bath blitz also casualties of war. It is really appropriate as the grassy space beside the Cross of Remembrance where the service is held is also adjacent to the 'Long Communal' where many of the blitz victims are buried. So in 2002 the first service was held and is now attended by representatives of all age groups from veterans to pupils from nearby Culverhay School.
Some veterans have said to staff that they had not felt comfortable with large organised services of remembrance, but that this simple service beside the graves exactly meets their needs.
Haycombe war graves section
Bereavement Service is justifiably proud of its war graves section, which it maintains on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).
The area is towards the end of the road leading to the crematorium car park and is unmistakeable with its typical war grave headstones, English garden planting and the Cross of Remembrance. It also boasts a tempettio - a small temple shaped building, built to house a Book of Remembrance . We think that there are only two in the country, so we are very proud that one is here. The Book of Remembrance is no longer there. It is safely stored in the council's archives.
The servicemen buried here are all casualties of the 1939 - 1945 war. They are mainly fliers, but are from many nationalities - including Italians and Germans as well as Canadians, Australians, Poles, etc. All are young and died before their time.
Other graves are spread throughout the cemetery marked by the distinctive CWGC memorials. Details can be found in the CWGC booklet entitled '1939 - 1945 The War Dead of the Commonwealth' 'Cemeteries and Churchyards in the county of Somerset' - notice how the title has changed from 'British Empire' to 'Commonwealth' between the wars.
Victoria Cross holders
Details of all the VC holders buried in the older Bath cemeteries prepared by a previous Cemeteries Superintendent is also kept at Haycombe. It is hoped to reproduce this in a leaflet format later this year.
The Bath Blitz happened over three nights in May of 1942. There are two rows of communal burials, where each person has a headstone in a similar fashion to the war graves. Bath and North East Somerset plants them and maintains them to as near the standard of the war graves as possible.
There is a memorial plinth dedicated to the memory of those killed on the nights of the blitz. Each Remembrance Day a service is held on the grass between the war graves and the blitz graves at Haycombe in recognition of the fact that both service personnel and civilians gave their lives.
There are two rows separated by a grassed area because it was thought at the time that Bath would not escape so lighlty (relatively) and more bombing was expected. So space was left for the anticipated victims, but fortunately never needed.
There is a memorial to the Crimean War in Abbey Cemetery.
Memorials for those who fought in almost every war since Waterloo are to be found in cemeteries or churchyards throughout the area.
Locksbrook cemetery - war graves section
The servicemen buried here are casualties of the 1911 - 1918 war and their details are included in the Commonwealth War Graves publication entitled 'The War Graves of the British Empire - Cemeteries and churchyards in the county of Somerset'.
There is a dedicated section with a Cross of Remembrance which is reached by following the roadway branching to the left not too far from the main entrance gates, leading up towards the mortuary chapels.
Other graves with the distinctive war graves headstones are spread throughout the cemetery, including some relating to those who died in the 1939 -1945 war, but whose families preferred them to be buried in family graves.
(For other information re VC graves, etc., see Locksbrook Cemetery)