May in Elvas in 2016
Friday the 13th was a day of torrential rain, so when we woke up the next morning to a clear blue sky with a gentle breeze, we realised that our prayers had yet again been answered.
As it was the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Association, we were very happy that our Patron, Lady Jane Wellesley, was able to come out from England. The British Ambassador, Mrs Kirsty Hayes, came for the first time, arriving exactly at 11 am and bringing the most superb wreath of red roses. The Mayor of Elvas, Dr Nuno Mocinha, also attended for the first time since he has become Mayor. Numbers from the UK were much reduced, but this was massively offset by travellers from Gibraltar and the Algarve and our greatly valued Portuguese and Spanish friends. Our ranks were swelled by the Naval contingent of serving and retired officers with their wives, encouraged by Selwyn and Jackie Kennard. At 10 am Canon Keith Hugo from Lisbon celebrated Eucharist in the Chapel.
Since the Chairman is now rather decrepit, he gave the introduction, in which he described the development of the Association over the last 20 years, before handing over to Stewart Streeting, sometime Divisional Sergeant Major of the Queen's Division. Capitâo Carretas of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment spoke in Portuguese about the battle of Albuera. Coronel Mollá of Regimento Castilla 16 spoke in English. The British Ambassador then gave an address. After the laying of wreaths, Canon Keith Hugo said prayers and gave a blessing. He was followed by Padre José Fernández Macías of the Spanish Army.
As usual, Lunch was held in the Varchotel with a menu that is unchangeable - 80 of us sat down to Bacalhau dourado, Frango assado and Pudim flan, with ample supplies of whatever anyone wished to drink. During the sweet course, the customary auction was conducted by Selwyn Kennard, who took over the gavel at short notice from Mike Byham who was unable to attend.
In the evening, Major General Rui Moura gave a talk on "The Massacre at Coimbra, or was it?" It was a fascinating talk that showed just how a lie, or inexactitude, if repeated often enough comes to be recognized as the truth. This was followed by an excellent buffet in the Hotel Dom Luis.
The Chairman gave a short talk by the swimming pool at the Hotel Sâo Joâo de Deus on the elements and principles of 17th century fortifications. Ana Santos had arranged guided tours of, first, the Forte de Santa Luzia and then of the massive Forte de Graça, which has only recently been restored. It was a truly memorable day.
May Remembrance Ceremony 2016
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