Below is a letter to the Taxi Charity from Roger Beets of the Airborne Commemoration Foundation in the Netherlands. It tells the remarkable story of a song entitled Remembrance, written in 1994 and then rediscovered recently...
Dear Dick, Last weekend we had two Jubilee concerts as closure of the 70th Jubilee Edition Year of the Airborne March. I am sure Frans has told you about it. During the concert a song was played called Remembrance.
There is a great story surrounding this song... A couple of years ago, someone who had been ‘putting faces to graves’ at the Airborne Cemetery, slipped me a piece of paper he had found in his desk drawer. It was a song, with the music and lyrics, called Remembrance. He did not know where it came from or any other history.
It intrigued me because of the words, and so I started a search. I passed a copy to Rev. Monique van Zoest who performs the services at the Airborne Cemetery and she was also intrigued. But neither of us were able to find its origin. In May 2015, Monique's daughter read the song lyrics as a poem at the Children’s Liberation Monument, in the presence of Arnhem veterans who had come over with the Taxi Charity on the Return of the Liberators trip.
At the farewell diner that evening, someone came up to us asking about the words in that poem. He said he recognised it and knew all about it. He told us the full story and we were delighted, as you can imagine... A Brit called Nigel Everett visited Oosterbeek Cemetery in 1994 and was wandering through the rows of headstones, when he stopped at one that marked the resting place of Private Alfred Guthrie.
On 18 September, 1944, Private Alfred Guthrie departed from Leicester, as a parachutist of the 4th brigade of the parachute regiment Army Air Corps of the 1st Airborne Division, to fight at the Battle of Arnhem. His army number was 4469508. Only a day after landing on September 19, he lost his life. He was only 27 years of age and was later buried at the Airborne Cemetery at Oosterbeek.
Loosely quoting Nigel’s words, he found himself rooted to that spot in front of that headstone for a short time, but when he did walk away, the music to Remembrance was loud in his head. He came home and played it over and over again.
He then called on his friend Tony Mills to put words to the music.
The song was performed in a small church in the UK in the early nineties and again at the Festival of Remembrance in the Barbican Theatre York in 2007, but was relatively unknown. To cut a long story short, Monique and I both used the lyrics and the story in our ceremonies during the Airborne Commemoration last year and many people were moved.
A couple of months ago, when we were preparing for the Jubilee concert of last weekend, I was asked what I would like to hear during the concert. So I suggested Remembrance, not knowing that it would become quite a stretch for the orchestra. The only music notes were for a piano and had to be rearranged for an orchestra. But it worked.
Last weekend the song was played and the lyrics were sung by a young army veteran who has been on six or seven missions and had multiple PTSS. It sounded absolutely fantastic and the audience gave a huge round of applause afterwards. This really was the highlight of the whole concert, which many people enjoyed very much. It was a great closure of this jubilee year.
It’s on YouTube. Unfortunately it is not a perfect recording.
Nigel Everett, who composed the song, and Tony Mills, who wrote the lyrics, were both present and were very moved.
Keep well! Regards,
Below is the version of Remembrance recorded in a small church in the UK in the early nineties. You can read the full lyrics here.
Below is the version of Remembrance recorded at the Festival of Remembrance in the Barbican Theatre York in 2007.