A Hero's Return

Keith Thompson told us the fascinating story of the Unknown Warrior buried in Westminster Abbey and the connection with the Cenotaph.

The audience heard how the idea of a tomb of an Unknown Warrior was conceived by an army chaplain during the First World War. Following the war his proposal that an unidentified British soldier be brought from France and buried in Westminster Abbey was taken up and arrangements made. Several bodies were exhumed from various battlefields before one was chosen at random to represent the many


We followed the casket’s journey through France before it was piped onto a navy destroyer and taken across the Channel to

Dover. From there it went by train to London in the railway van previously used to transport Edith Cavell’s body, arriving at Victoria Station on 10 November 1920.

The following day, 11 November, the casket was placed on a gun carriage and taken through silent crowds to Whitehall where King George V then unveiled the recently erected Cenotaph, a replacement of an earlier temporary structure.

From there the cortège made its way to Westminster Abbey where the guests of honour at the interment were women who had each lost their husbands and all their sons in the war. The coffin was interred near to the entrance of the Abbey where thousands of mourners, still reeling from the horrors and losses of the war filed silently past, and where today’s visitors pause to read the inscription and stand in

quiet reflection.

A very moving and thought-provoking talk.