Old enemies united

The cover of the order of service.
The cover of the order of service.
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If a century ago you had told two enemies that 100 years later they would be allies gathered in the same church, they would have laughed at you.

But that is what happened on Monday when I attended a service of remembrance at the Admiralty church, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.

The service was held for the 3,500 men of the British and German navies who were lost at the Battle of Coronel, off Chile, on November 1, 1914, and five weeks later at the Battle of the Falkland Islands on December 8.

At the service British and German officers and ratings stood side by side and there were representatives from Canada as four Canadian midshipmen, the first of the war, were also lost.

Eleven standard bearers, nine from Britain, one from Germany and one from Canada, paraded down the aisle and placed their banners at the altar. Many distinguished members of the church and navy took part in the service. They included: Alan Huckle, the chairman of the Falkland Islands’ Association and former governor of the islands from 2006-2010; Second Sea Lord Vice-Adm David Steel, and Brig Gen Martin Hein, the defence attaché at the German embassy.

The service was led by the Chaplain of the Fleet the Rev Scott Brown.

A bugler from the Band of the Royal Marines, Portsmouth, played the Last Post and Reveille.