Cheshire Fire Choir to perform at war memorial in Belgium

Members of the Cheshire Fire ChoirThe Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service Choir has been selected to take part in the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate war memorial in Belgium this Sunday, March 8.

Each night at 8pm the traffic is stopped at the Menin Gate while buglers of the Last Post Association sound the Last Post in the roadway under the memorial’s arches.

The Cheshire Fire choir, which is made up of 18 people and includes serving and retired firefighters, will travel to Ypres to perform the Last Post as part of a ceremony and then lay a wreath on behalf of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service at the war memorial.

As part of the trip each choir member, as a mark of respect, will take the opportunity to remember some of the many local Cheshire soldiers whose names are written on the memorial.

The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, often referred to simply as the Menin Gate, bears the names of more than 54,000 soldiers who died in Belgium and have no known grave.

Between October 1914 and September 1918 hundreds of thousands of servicemen of the British Empire marched through the town of Ypres Menin Gate on their way to the battlefields. The memorial now stands as a reminder of those who died, who have no known grave, and is perhaps one of the most well-known war memorials in the world.

Each evening at the Menin Gate, local firefighters play the Last Post as a tribute to the dead of World War One. It’s a tradition that began in 1928 when the local fire chief at Ypres pledged that the volunteer local fire brigade would provide buglers to perform the ceremony. They kept their promise and have sounded it every day since.

The Choir Chair is firefighter Dan Selby and he will be leading the group during the visit. He said: “We are all honoured to have been selected to sing at the Menin Gate so we are fortunate to be in the position to be able to remember some of our fallen Cheshire soldiers in person. The song we have chosen, along with our musical director Ben, is “Let The Life I Lived Speak For Me” by Gwyneth Walker, which fits well with the criteria for us to perform traditional remembrance music. It’s also a lovely song to sing and is fitting for such a remembrance.”

The Cheshire Fire Choir formed as part of the Gareth Malone BBC television programme Sing While You Work in 2013 and the group has stayed together since, performing regularly at some amazing places including the 911 memorial at Ground Zero in New York and they have also released a recording of the songThe Rising by Bruce Springsteen with all money being raised going to The Fire Fighters Charity.

Dan added: “We’d love to hear from the family of any of the soldiers who we have chosen to remember personally at the ceremony, so we would urge them to please get in touch.”

The choir will be remembering the following soldiers:

Retired station manager Bud Flanagan is in the bass section of the choir and will remember Private Jack Rushton from Knutsford, service number 18621. Jack was in the 2nd Bn Cheshire Regiment. Bud will also remember driver/gunner Herbert Mountford, service number 79764. Herbert lived in Talke, Staffordshire. Find out more.

Bass Tom Daniels works in IT and lives in Middlewich so he is remembering Private Christopher Clare, service number 45576, from Middlewich and Private William Shallcross, service number 15826, from Congleton. Find out more.

Watch manager at Macclesfield Fire Station Phil Marke is a bass singer in the choir and is remembering Private Fred Bailey from Poynton, no 1225, and Private Harold Turner (1462) from Penketh. Find out more.

Retired Fire Authority member Maurice McBride sings in the bass section and is remembering Second Lieutenant George Froude Hamlett from Winsford and Private Joseph Press from Bollington. Find out more

Macclesfield firefighter Matt Lloyd sings as a tenor and would like to pay his respects to Private Thomas Weaver (8106) while in Ypres. Find out more.

Firefighter Marc Titley is based at Birchwood Fire Station and wants to remember Lance Corporal Ernest Davies (R/11188) while he’s there and Private Herbert Singleton Gardner (2204). Find out more.

Family Intervention Worker Sue Cleaver lives near Crewe and has chosen Lance Corporal John Henry Tudor (10431) from Crewe to think of and remember at the Menin Gate memorial. Find out more.

Crew Manager Dan Selby is the Choir Chair and works at Macclesfield Fire Station. Dan will pay his respects to Private Charles Frederick Campbell (S/11063) from Macclesfield. Find out more.

Choir Director Ben Hamilton will be paying his respects to James Gough (8433) from Warrington. James enlisted at 18 years and 3 months old in 1907 and is remembered with honour on the Menin Gate memorial.

Retired member Gwynn Williams will be paying her respects to Private Arthur Benjamin Darlington from Chester (28062). Gwyn is an alto in the choir and previously worked in the control department. Find out more.

Alto Louise McMahon will remember Private George Henry Spicer (8454) from Ellesmere Port during the service and Private Frank Simpson (260113) from Mollington, Chester. Find out more.

Rifleman William Wesley Wright (240925) from Tarporley and Private John Briscoe from Frodsham are being remembered by the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service solicitor Jayne Nixon, who will pay her respects to both soldiers during the memorial.

Prevention Manager Lorraine Page has chosen Corporal Pervical Ernest Woore (11973) from Wilmslow and will locate his name on the Menin Gate as a mark of respect.

Sandbach soldier Private Thomas Edward Peakman (13838) and Lance Sergeant Herbery Henry Upton are both being remembered on the March 8th by Fiona Owen. Fiona is a volunteer with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and sings soprano in the choir. Find out more.

Claire Moores is a Fire Prevention Officer and vice chair of the choir. She is remembering Private William Thomas Cooper (10244) from Nantwich and Private Wilfrid Wright (31548) who lived near Audlem. Find out more.

Soprano Michelle Truscott is remembering Private James Bushell from Widnes (8121) while performing at the Menin Gate. Find out more.

Emily Morris is a soprano in the choir and works at North West Fire Control in Warrington. She has chosen Private William Rushton (11583) from Runcorn to pay her respects to during the visit. Find out more.

Lymm Firefighter Laura Wheelton is a soprano and would like to remember Private Frederick Daniels (16044) who lived in Lymm while in Ypres. 

For more information or to get in touch if you are a member of any of the people mentioned then email feedback@cheshirefire.gov.uk and your email will be forwarded on to the relevant choir member.

Related images


Members of the Cheshire Fire Choir