Oxford City Council paid tribute on Saturday to the contributions, both past and present, of men and women who have served in the British Army.
This year, the Armed Forces have played a major role in the national effort to tackle the Coronavirus outbreak and support the NHS, establishing specialist Nightingale hospitals across the country at unprecedented speed.
More locally, their efforts have been vital in testing for the virus at Thornhill Park and Ride. Reservists from Oxfordshire have also been deployed in London to serve at Covid-19 testing stations.
Further afield, Oxfordshire’s County Regiment serves as part of the 7 Rifles Reservists to man the UN Forces’ ‘Green Line’ – a demilitarised peace-keeping zone in Cyprus.
Oxford’s Royal Green Jackets (RGJ) Association have curtailed many activities due to Covid-19, including the annually-held Turning of The Pages. However, they were able to honour the life of Major John Howard, an Oxford policeman who led a Company from the Oxford and Bucks during World War II to capture Pegasus Bridge on D-Day. They were the first allied troops to land in Normandy, arriving by gliders at 12 minutes past mid-night on 6 June 1944. The Oxford and Bucks Regimen later transitioned to become The Royal Green Jackets.
Some members from the Association were able to attend the ceremony, observing social distancing.
The celebration of Armed Forces Day this year follows national and City commemoration of VE Day on 8 May. These celebrations were also affected by the lockdown following the outbreak of Covid-19.
“Armed Forces Day 2020 is being marked under extraordinary circumstances. No pomp, no public ceremony, just quiet reflection on the role of our armed forces. I’m pleased that, in spite of the significant challenges faced, some members from the RGJ Association were able to attend commemorations of Major John Howard, observing social distancing of course! With special thanks to Major (Retired) Terry Roper for his help in supporting the ceremony.
"On 14 August, we mark V-J (Victory over Japan) Day, which finally brought an end to World War II. Sadly, it is unlikely that Covid-19 restrictions will be relaxed enough for us to publically commemorate this momentous occasion.”
Councillor Rae Humberstone, Armed Forces and Veterans Champion for Oxford City Council