On Sunday 27 May a wreath laying ceremony took place at the Trooper Potts VC memorial in the Forbury to mark two events which happed exactly 100 years ago during the First World War. Firstly, the death of 21 young men, who had recently transferred from the 2/1st Berkshire Yeomanry to reinforce the 4th Battalion East Yorks Regiment, and 4th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, during the 3rd Battle of the Aisne. Secondly to commemorate the 80 men who lost their lives, including two men of the 1/1st Berkshire Yeomanry, on 27 May 1918 in the Mediterranean en-route to Marseilles. The 2,000 men on board were rescued, by the Royal Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy.
After a short introduction by Captain Andrew French, Mr Wayne Ratcliffe laid the first wreath on behalf of the Berkshire Yeomanry Regimental Association, timed to coincide with the striking of eleven o'clock by the town hall clock. Mr Richard Bennett D.L., gave a short address and Jill Tait read the poem “In Flanders Fields.” Mr Bennett then laid a second wreath on behalf of the Lord-Lieutenant for Berkshire. Finally, Rebekah Clarke, one of our Lower VI girls, laid a beautiful wreath in the school colours.
The Abbey has long had a special connection with Troopers Potts and Andrews as not only is Trooper Andrews’ Great Great Niece Maya a pupil at The Abbey, but both men commemorated by the statue used to regularly visit the School for the special Christmas parties that were provided to honour servicemen. The School was involved in the unveiling of the statue back in 2014.
Well done to Rebekah who was an absolute credit to the School and to everyone else involved in this incredibly poignant event.