As a serving member of the Armed Forces Milton Keynes North MP Mark Lancaster joined around 30 other MPs to take part in an act of Remembrance ahead of Sunday’s official national commemorations.
The MPs had either served or continue to serve in the military and were drawn from across a number of parties.
The Guards Chapel in London’s Wellington Barracks provided a fitting setting to remember those who had died in the two World Wars and conflicts since.
With this, the hundredth year since the start of WWI, the service carried particular significance.
Alongside the hundreds of thousands of British Servicemen killed while on active service in the Great War, were nineteen serving Members of Parliament, commemorated in the House of Commons Books of Remembrance.
Amongst them was Valentine Fleming MP, a Major in the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars and father of Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels.
Following on from their forebears, almost 60 of the current 650 MPs in the House of Commons have served their country either in the regular or reserve forces, with some still serving in the reserves.
Those in attendance represented military service in a variety of operational theatres including Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and Northern Ireland.
The commemorative photo highlights the wealth and breadth of military service in the House of Commons, sending the message to today’s military personnel that their experiences and beliefs are not alien to those representing them. The experience and knowledge that can be brought to bear from within the House ensures that military matters experience the strongest of scrutiny and support.
Mark, who has seen operational service in the Balkans and Afghanistan, continues to serve in the Army Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Engineers, said how proud he was to take part in the service and to be able to pay his respects in this unprecedented way.
After the service Mark said, “The historic link between Parliament and the armed forces has always been very strong but it often surprises people just how many MP’s have served.
At a time when we are withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan after 13 years hard service, it is right that on Remembrance Sunday this year we remember veterans both young and old and thank them for their service to our country.”
The event was again organised by Mark Francois MP, the Armed Forces Minister. He served as a Territorial Army officer in the Royal Anglian Regiment in the 1980s.
He said: “Many serving personnel are often surprised when I tell them that around 60 MPs – or almost one in ten in the House of Commons – have served in the Armed Forces, either as a Regular or Reserve.
“Today’s service gave those MPs an opportunity to pay their respects to the fallen, particularly in this important and commemorative year, but I hope it will also highlight to our serving personnel and their families how many parliamentarians have worn the Queen’s uniform at some point in their lives.
“We have served too: so we also remember them.”
A wider series of events are planned to take place between 2014-2018 in order to mark the centenary of significant dates from WWI, such as the first day of the Battle of the Somme (July 1, 2016) and Armistice Day (November 11, 2018).