News story: Post-war wedding film brings generations together for Armistice Day

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  1. Remarkable footage from the 1947 wedding of two people who met during the Second World War has stirred thoughts of Remembrance for one Naval officer ahead of Armistice Day.

    Commander Duncan McClement, a Royal Navy officer whose family has served in the Armed Forces for more than 100 years, was at the Cenotaph in London on Sunday 8 November to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

    He also shared his own personal connections to the Armed Forces – including the heart-warming tale of how his grandparents met in the aftermath of the Second World War in Hong Kong.

    Cinefilm footage shows the moment Winnifred and Reginald McClement married in Hong Kong in 1947. They met in late 1945, when Reginald was admitted to a hospital with injuries sustained during the war.

    He was looked after by a young English doctor – Winnifred – whom he married a year later in a ceremony captured on film.

    Post-war wedding from 1947

    Commander McClement, who is originally from Portsmouth and now works at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, said:

    My family has a long tradition within the Royal Navy stretching back, unbroken, over 100 years. So, as a fifth generation naval officer, Remembrance means a huge amount to me not least because the Second World War in Hong Kong is where my grandparents met.

    It’s strange looking at the footage. It was lovely to see moving images of them when they were my age and younger. It holds a particular memory for me because I’ve also served in Hong Kong and therefore know a lot of the places. When I was out there I was able to go and visit the places I recognised.

    Duncan’s grandmother Winnifred had been in Hong Kong at the outbreak of the Second World War and was sent, along with her mother, to Australia by her father just before the Japanese invaded.

    An Australian farmer, who had been refused permission to join in the fighting because his farming work was deemed essential, put Winnifred through medical school as part of his desire to contribute to the war effort.

    When the conflict was officially over, Winnifred found herself back in Hong Kong putting her new skills to use by working at a hospital treating injured Servicemen. One of them happened to be a young naval Lieutenant, Reginald McClement. He was being treated for injuries he received having survived the sinking of HMS Penelope, which was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1944.

    They parted ways, but soon after met again at a party and recognised each other immediately. Duncan added:

    At this time of year it brings it all back. Never forgetting them and always remembering them is a key part of that. As a serviceman who is still serving I have huge pride in my own service but also in the tradition of my family back through the ages.

    I will be remembering those who have not only given the ultimate sacrifice but also those who have been injured in conflict or through their service in the Armed Forces.

    Duncan has another grandfather who served in the Second World War. Lieutenant Peter Whiteley was a Royal Marine Turret Commander who served on board HMS King George V. He went on to Command 3 Commando Brigade and was Commandant General Royal Marines from 1975 to 1979.

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