Farewell, comrade

Tony Noyes, who was a well-known tour guide on the Western Front, passed away today after a battle with cancer. Here’s what the Western Front Association had to say about him when he became a vice president of the organization.

He was born in Kingston-upon-Thames in 1939 and after leaving grammar school was apprenticed to be a Civil Engineer. He retired in 2005 after completing 50 years in the industry. He joined the WFA in its earliest days and soon joined the committee, serving as Branch Coordinator, Vice-Chairman and, later, Chairman. He believed his first duty as Chairman should be to organize the attendance of the Association and its members at the Cenotaph on November 11th and to restore the two minute silence at 11am. This would be followed by a Service of Remembrance at the Guards’ Chapel. Held for the first time in 1994, this ceremony has struck a national chord and similar ceremonies are now held in many places across the UK.
After several years of leading the Cenotaph ceremony, he took over from Lt Col Graham Parker as Parade Marshall for the Poppy Parade at Ypres on November 11th, a position he held for several years.
He now looks forward to being of further service to the Association as a Vice-President.

Tony led the first tour I went on, in 2003, all around Ypres. I was dazzled just to be in Belgium and hardly knew where we were most of the time. But I have two powerful memories of Tony: at one site of the 1914 Christmas Truce, where he played a recording, “Christmas in the Trenches.” He got down on one knee and covered his face. Sorrow, or theatrics? Either way, it is very affecting to stand where simple soldiers stopped the war for a day.

By the end of 1915, there was no truce possible. After a year of bloody slaughter, no one was disposed to sing with the guys who murdered his pals.

My other memory of Tony is when we drove past a little housing development under construction, and he remarked, “I wonder if they realize they are building on an abbatoir.”

Au revoir, Tony. I’m sure the Old Contemptibles are as glad to greet you as we are sorry to see you go.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTXhZ4uR6rs

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4 thoughts on “Farewell, comrade

  1. Dear Genevra, For someone to dedicate the last years of his life to this fascinating subject,he will surely be missed by your association and all his friends.Having been to the Somme on 2 occasions now.I must say when we went the last time I Sat In Tyne-cot Cemetery on my own for 5 Min and I was becoming quit upset & that was my 2nd time at this Cemetery.I will certainly be going back to the Somme for quit a few times to come over the rest of my life.And would like to think that that feeling never goes away.If it does what is the Point of remembrance.” They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old,Age shall not were them,nor the years condemn,At the going down of the Sun and in the morning,We Will Remember Them ” May God Bless Tony’s Family & Friends at this Time & RIP Tony

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    • I know what you mean, Alan. I often get choked up in the cemeteries, especially when I can put my hand on a gravestone that reads “A soldier known to God,” and then turn my head and look at all the names of the missing. But I’m an emotional American — we let our feelings all hang out.

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  2. Sorry to learn of the passing of Tony Noyes. The first time I meet Tony was on a trip lead by Sal Campagno in 2001. It was my first trip to the Western Front. It started with a meeting at the Union Jack Club at which Tony put on his famous presentation which used three slide projectors and music to create a visual of the sacrifice and carnage experienced by the British in WWI. He also was the leader along with his former wife Teddy on the 2005 Somme trip. He was a wonderful enthusiastic presenter with a vast knowledge of the Western Front. He will be missed. His presence will be felt along with all the other departed from the Western Front.

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