Remembrance 2021 – The story of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

On November 7th, 1920, in strictest secrecy, four unidentified British bodies were exhumed from temporary battlefield cemeteries at Ypres, Arras, the Asine and the Somme. None of the soldiers who did the digging were told why. The bodies were taken by field ambulance to GHQ at St-Pol-Sur-Ter Noise. Once there, the bodies were draped with the union flag.

Sentries were posted and Brigadier-General Wyatt and a Colonel Gell selected one body at random. The other three were reburied. A French Honour Guard was selected and stood by the coffin overnight of the chosen soldier overnight.

On the morning of the 8th November, a specially designed coffin made of oak from the grounds of Hampton Court arrived and the Unknown Warrior was placed inside. On top was placed a crusaders sword and a shield on which was inscribed:

A British Warrior who fell in the GREAT WAR 1914-1918 for King and Country“.

On the 9th of November, the Unknown Warrior was taken by horse-drawn carriage through Guards of Honour and the sound of tolling bells and bugle calls to the quayside.
There, he was saluted by Marechal Foche and loaded onto HMS Vernon bound for Dover. The coffin stood on the deck covered in wreaths, surrounded by the French Honour Guard.
Upon arrival at Dover, the Unknown Warrior was met with a nineteen gun salute – something that was normally only reserved for Field Marshals.

A special train had been arranged and he was then conveyed to Victoria Station, London. He remained there overnight, and, on the morning of the 11th of November, he was finally taken to Westminster Abbey. The idea of the unknown warrior was thought of by a Padre called David Railton who had served on the front line during the Great War. The union flag he had used as an altar cloth whilst at the front, was the one that had been draped over the coffin.

It was his intention that all of the relatives of the 517,773 combatants whose bodies had not been identified could believe that the Unknown Warrior could very well be their lost husband, father, brother or son…

THIS is the reason we wear poppies.

We do not glorify war.

We remember – with humility – the great and the ultimate sacrifices that were made, not just in this war, but in every war and conflict where our service personnel have fought – to ensure the liberty and freedoms that we now take for granted. Every year, on the 11th of November, we remember the Unknown Warrior.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

The Museum of East Asian Art – Judo Exhibit ‘Field trip’ report.

Hello everyone, Adam here with another ‘field trip‘ report.

On Monday we shared on Facebook and Twitter about an exhibit at The Museum of East Asian Art in Bath. As I have the week off from work for half term, I decided to visit myself, which I did yesterday (Wednesday 27th October.)

Now for once I’m not sure what to actually say because…. there wasn’t really that much to see. The exhibit itself was just one room, and the photo below shows maybe 40% of it.

Image copyright Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, UK.

What they do have was interesting to look at, with my favourite thing being a letter from Sarah Mayer to Gunji Koizumi during her visit to Japan. It was interesting to read because it shows how she felt about Judo, her own doubts at her ability and her perspectives on the Japanese way of life.

But I can’t escape from from the simple fact that there just wasn’t a lot to see in the museum as a whole. I don’t want to disparage the museum. It’s clean and well presented, but I spent probably a total of 40 minutes at the museum, 20 minutes in the exhibit and the other 20 looking around the rest of the museum. And I saw everything.

What might be the most disappointing thing is finding out later on how much is in the larger collection. According to the University of Bath archives, the Richard Bowen Collection has over 2000 items in it! To quote the Museum of East Asian Art website:

“This exhibition features material from the most significant judo archival collection in the UK, which is now housed at the University of Bath. The collection was assembled by Richard Bowen (1926-2005), who represented Great Britain at the first World Judo Championships in Japan. The valuable photographs, rare books, old posters and other important documents illustrate the history of judo in the UK as well as provide fascinating insights into Anglo-Japanese relations, the role of gender in sport and the popularity of judo around the world.”

Unfortunately it appears that aside from what is on show at the Museum of East Asian Art, the rest of the collection is in the University of Bath archives and not available to the public. Which is a shame, because it looks like quite a lot more could have been shown diving more into the history of Judo in the UK.

In conclusion? I would say if you’re in the area (the Royal Crescent is nearby) and have an hour to kill, go for it. Otherwise, don’t go to Bath exclusively for this exhibit. To be honest, after I left the museum I spent the rest of the day just walking around the city of Bath being a tourist, and had a better time for it.

The Museum of East Asian Art website –
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Twitter – @TheMEAA