RED seas of poppies and wooden tributes to the fallen formed a poignant tableau at the opening of the Lydiard Park Field of Remembrance.

More than 20,000 wooden crosses bearing touching messages from families and friends of those killed in warfare were planted in the walled garden.

Hundreds of onlookers bowed their heads and stood in silent solidarity with the fallen service men and women.

Among those planting crosses was Second World War veteran Geoffrey Hobbs. The 91-year-old travelled all the way from Slimbridge in Gloucestershire to pay tribute to his best friend and comrade Ronald Wood who died in battle aged 19.

“I lost my best pal and that hurt me. So many of my best friends lost their lives and I was thinking about them during the service. I will always come back here to pay my respects.”

Dignitaries including mayor of Swindon Eric Shaw, South Swindon MP Robert Buckland and Colonel James Arkell, deputy Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, were in attendance.

The haunting Kohima epitaph was read by Legion national vice chairman, Mrs Una Cleminson: “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.”

Ivan Carey, from Chippenham, was a squadron leader in the RAF for 36 years and is chairman of the Wiltshire branch of the RAF police association.

“We have to do this, we have to remember them in any way we can. I am very proud of everyone who fought for us. These were only young men and they made that sacrifice. Everyone should pay tribute to them,” he said.

A two-minute silence was observed as last post was played before the military wives choir brought onlookers to tears as they sang Wherever You Are. Edward Elgar’s Nimrod played as wooden crosses were planted into the ground

Steve Blundell, from Chippenham, is a member of the Legion’s Riders and an airforce veteran. He attended to pay tribute to his grandfather Thomas, and father Philip who fought in the First World War and Second World War respectively.

“Being part of the commemorations and Poppy Appeal is a big part of what we do, 365 days a year," he said.

"All of us as a country should be stopping, taking a minute and remembering all those who served for us and kept us safe for generations to come."

Mayor of Swindon Eric Shaw paid tribute to his uncle Joey Shaw, who was killed in action in the last week of the First World War, aged 18. His father Reginald served as a corporal in the RAF during the Second World War.

“I lived through the Second World War and saw my father go away for five years serving," he said.

"I always knew about my uncle growing up and how young he was when he lost his life.

"These men bravely went out into the battlefield and sacrificed their lives. We must never forget that and because of the Legion we are honouring a new generation of veterans which is so important.”

The Royal British Legion is the country’s biggest armed forces charity and provides care and support to serving and past members of the British Armed forces. It is the national custodian of Remembrance with its emblem being the iconic red poppy.

This year the Legion is urging people to rethink Remembrance by paying tribute not only to armed forces of the past but also a new generation of veterans. For information visit