IT is a sea of tiny crosses that represent 10,260 giant sacrifices made by Hampshire’s brave.
Carefully placed in row after row and decorated with a commemorative poppy they are a small but poignant tribute to the fallen.
Yesterday the county’s new Memorial Garden Field of Remembrance was officially unveiled in honour of the men of the Royal Hampshire Regiment.
The Band and Corps of Drums of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Army Cadet Force
As the buglers sounded the Standard was lowered and soldiers past and present paused to reflect and remember during the special service at Serle’s House in Winchester.
The event, on the eve of the centenary of the start of the First World War, was organised by the Royal Hampshire Regiment Trust.
Event organiser Lieutenant Colonel Colin Bulleid, secretary to the trustees, said the event had been timed with other services across the county and to coincide with work recently completed at the museum.
He said: “We have completely reorganised the regiment museum and we were looking for an event to highlight this and the start of the First World War.
“This is about commemorating the soldiers of the regiment who fought and died for us, not only in the First World War, but also during World War Two and conflicts beyond.”
The great and good of Hampshire including all former soldiers who served with the Hampshire Regiment, were invited to the poignant event.
He added: “If you come from a Hampshire family of more than two generations you have a good chance they have fought with us.”
Wreaths were laid alongside the 10,259 poppy-bearing wooden crosses which were carefully placed in the ground earlier in the week by six cadets from Eastleigh platoons, who volunteered.
Among them was Lance Corporal Sophie Groves, 16, who is with the 11 platoon.
“It’s a really important event and it’s good to be part of it,” she said. “I’ve been in cadets most of my life and to see all this is amazing.”
Also paying tribute was guest of honour Sergeant Johnson Beharry VC, who serves with the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment – nicknamed The Tigers.
Honour He was awarded the Victoria Cross for twice saving members of his unit from ambushes in 2004 in Iraq during which he sustained serious head injuries.
He said: “Today I’m here to remember the great men who laid down their lives to give us the platform we’re standing on today. It’s an honour to be in their presence.”
One of the more senior veterans, Reginald Argyle, 91, was born on St Thomas Street in Winchester in 1923 and fought with the 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment and later with the Gloucestershire Regiment.
Royal Hampshire Regiment veteran Reginald Argyle, 91, with Sgt Johnson Beharry VC
He laid a cross for his best friend, Leonard Burgess, who threw himself over Mr Argyle during a mortar attack in Italy during the Second World War.
He said: “This is the first time this has happened here and I put three crosses there: one for each of my granddads killed in 1917 and one for my best pal, who I went to school with, who was killed in 1943.”
He was accompanied by his son, 62-year-old Allan, the honorary secretary for the London branch and a standard-bearer.
Sid Whistle, 75, who served with the 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment between 1957-1960, said: “I feel very privileged and very proud to be able to be here.”