Twenty-four members of the Royal Air Force, plus a padre and a couple of reporters joined yesterday (15 November 2011) in a memorial service down an unmarked dusty road in a remote area north of Dhadnah, Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.
No one who gathered around the grave knew the serviceman personally for he was the navigator on a Wellington bomber that crashed on this site almost 70 years earlier.
Squadron-Leader Chris Jackson had arranged this brief memorial service as part of the annual Remembrance Day commemorations for his team that is currently based in the UAE.
The service led by a RAF chaplain was simple yet significant at the gravesite between the sea and the rugged Hajar Mountains. The ceremony had stories, scripture readings, prayers, silence, the strains of the bugle, poetry, the laying of a group wreath, the placing of the symbolic poppies and the taking of photos.
We Will Remember Them
The service guided by the padre involved:
+ Remembering Sgt. William Donnelly who did not survive when the plane crashed on its way between Sharjah and Karachi. (His story is told in detail at this link.)
+ Remembering the fragility and transient nature of life.
+ Remembering the crew that buried Billy, their anxiety in waiting four days to be rescued and the gift of mateship.
+ Remembering that war is made up of individual acts of service and sacrifice, as epitomized in the story of Sergeant Donnelly.
+ Remembering that whether we are memorialized or our contribution goes unnoticed, we are never forgotten by our Creator.
+ Remembering to live fully and conscious of the legacy that we are leaving behind.
Joining With Others
The padre helped the small group who gathered at Dhadnah to forge a link with the great host of others around the world who remembered the fallen on Armistice Day (11 November) as he shared these lines from ‘The Ode of Remembrance’:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Take a Look
Some photos taken at the memorial service are posted in this photo album.
Remembering Sgt. William Donnelly in Dhadnah, Fujairah, FIF, 10 November 2011.
More Fujairah news, resources and photos are posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.
Image: Squadron-Leader, Chris Jackson (far right) gathering his team for the service of remembrance at Dhadnah, Fujairah, UAE at 11.00am on 15 November 2011.