Wet, cold Remembrance Day in St. John’s

Large crowd braves less than ideal conditions to honour contributions to war efforts

Published on November 11, 2013
With water dripping down over him, a member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment braves the elements as he stands at attention at the National War Memorial monument on Water Street east on Monday morning during a shortened Remembrance Day ceremony, due to the heavy rainfall that at times turned to wet snow.
— Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

With cold rain pouring down at a tremendous rate throughout the duration of Monday’s Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in St. John’s, some may have questioned the decision to go ahead with the annual event this year.

Of course, it could be said that those meant to be honoured by Remembrance Day never had a choice in how to proceed any given day when war was at hand.

The terrible weather did not deter hundreds from attending the ceremony. Merchant Navy veteran Joe Pearcey, who served on a ship that transported troops to New York and Bermuda during the Second World War, was pleased to see so many people turn out for the ceremony despite the harsh weather conditions. He suggested that highlights how much the occasion means to the public.

“It’s fantastic,” said the 87-year-old. “They must have some kind of a strong meaning behind this memorial service to have the people come out like that.”

Pearcey can recall many stretches of rough weather he experienced while contributing to the war effort aboard the SS Fort Amherst.

“It was terrible. You couldn’t go on the decks half the time because the weather was too bad.”

Rain poured down throughout the duration of the parade and the ceremony itself to honour those who contributed to war efforts past and present. That rain at times changed to wet snow and hail, drenching everyone who attended.

“This is some kind of a day,” said Pearcey. “Regardless of the weather, you can’t very well turn around and cancel (Remembrance Day).”

At one point, Pearcey saw a veteran improvise a shelter for a baby who was at the ceremony.

“I thought that was beautiful,” he said.

The severity of the weather did impact the ceremony, as organizers elected to have some attendees lay wreaths in front of the War Memorial after the ceremony concluded.

“The Last Post” was performed several minutes prior to 11:11 a.m., with the traditional moment of silence following shortly thereafter. “O Canada” was played, but the “Ode to Newfoundland” and the British anthem of “God Save the Queen” were not. A bagpiper attempted to perform “The Lament,” but the rain’s impact on the instrument prevented the musician from advancing the piece beyond a handful of notes.

•••

(Earlier Story)

A large crowd managed to make it to downtown St. John’s for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial, despite hostile weather conditions.

Rain poured down through the duration of the event to honour those who contributed to war efforts past and present. That rain at times changed to wet snow and hail, drenching those present for the event.

The severity of the weather did impact the ceremony, as organizers elected to have some attendees lay wreaths in front of the War Memorial after the ceremony concluded. “O Canada” was played, but the “Ode to Newfoundland” and the British anthem of “God Save the Queen” were not.

Merchant Navy veteran Joe Pearcey, who served on a ship that transported troops to New York and Bermuda during the Second World War, was pleased to see so many people turn out for the ceremony despite the harsh weather conditions, suggesting it showed how much they cared about honouring the occasion.

For more on Monday’s ceremony, check back later today at thetelegram.com.