In January 1945, the Duke of Edinburgh was First Lieutenant of HMS Whelp. That same year, Petty Officer (Airman) Norman Richardson was flying off HMS Victorious with the 849th Naval Air Squadron. Shot down by a Japanese Zero Fighter, Richardson was plucked out of the Coast of Sumatra in the Pacific by The Duke’s naval destroyer.
Sixty-eight years later, both were reunited at the Royal British Legion’s Field of Remembrance ceremony held today at Westminster Abbey.
Prince Harry and his grandfather attended today’s ceremony along with veterans and families who lost loved ones in the numerous wars and conflicts. 100,000 crosses were planted by the families to honour the fallen.
In 1945, the Duke had lent Mr. Richardson some clothes after he was rescued. Today, Richardson was one of the first people the Duke spoke to at the ceremony.
“We had a joke about Prince Philip giving me a set of his clothes when I was picked up off the coast of Sumatra. The Duke still remembers it, and I told him they weren’t really his clothes, they were the property of the purser’s store,” Richardson commented in the Daily Mail.
A Prisoner of war in Sicily for two years during World War II, telegraphist Ronald Harrison also had the chance to meet the Duke. “I told the Duke we Second World War veterans are a very thin line now, and he said: ‘All of us are like that now,’” commented Mr. Harrison.
This is the first dual official engagement for Harry and his grandfather. They planted crosses complete with their personal insignia in an arrangement which made up a larger cross constructed out of poppies.
Harry was in his Household Cavalry Cloak Order, which consists of the black cloak and red collar that he wore over his dress uniform, black trousers detailed with a single wide red stripe and riding boots with spurs. He also wore the Army Air Corps pale blue beret representing his attachment as an Apache helicopter pilot.
Prince Philip wore his Royal Navy ceremonial dress with his Lord High Admiral of the Navy coat.
Prince Harry paused and spoke with the family of Lt. Aaron Lewis who was killed in service in 2008. Lt. Lewis was serving with the 29th Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery in Helmand Province. Lt. Lewis had been at Sandhurst and trained with Prince William.
“Harry asked me about the Danish medal, because he had never seen one before,” Barry Lewis, father of Lt. Lewis commented in the Daily Mail. Mr. Lewis wore his son’s medals with pride. “I told him we had been sent a letter by the Danes in which they said they didn’t lose any of their men because of Aaron’s guns protecting them.”
Harry also met Corporal Watchman V, the mascot of the Staffordshire Regiment. “Is it going to be like the Peter Sellers joke, where you say your dog doesn’t bite, then it bites me and you say ‘It’s not my dog’?” Harry asked dog handler WO2 Greg Hedges, referencing one of his father’s favourite shows, the Goon Show.