The Funeral Of Sir Winston Churchill,1965

One day in my eighteenth year, a great man died
At school, a teacher'd let us hear his speeches
On a record player, war from a warrior's mouth
But for my parents, Churchill was their hero
We watched the news in black and white TV

Four days the statesman's somber funeral lasted
By Royal decree, his body lay in state
At Westminster Hall the length ofthree whole days

The queue of mourners stretched a mile long
The wait to view the coffin was three hours
More than 320,000 shuffled past

To mark the start of the funeral, Big Ben struck,
The rest of that day its metal tongue was mute
As if time itself stood still in deathly mourning

His coffin, placed on a gun carriage, was draped
With the Union Flag, bearing aloft
The Order of the Garter on a black cushion.

A drum beat began the procession
The sorrowing march processed along Whitehall,
Trafalgar Square, the Strand, to Ludgate Hill.

Banners of the Danish resistance movements
Dipped in respect at the Cenotaph.

The funeral at St Paul's Cathedral crackled on our screens
4 kings,2 queens,40 world leaders,10 former leaders.
Many openly weeping, inside and without

After, Churchill's coffin was marched to the Tower.
The bearer party, led by 60 pipers, played him on
To the Pier, where it boarded the MV Havengore

Naval ratings piped, and the Royal Marine band
Played the salute to this former First Lord of the Admiralty,
Rule Britannia. My father's knuckles whitened. Mother bit her lip

As his coffin sailed up the Thames,
Inspontaneous respect,36 dockers
Lowered their skinny crane jibs
Saluting the funeral vessel as it passed
In fields flanking the route,
At every station thousands stood in silence

Churchill was privately buried at St Martin's
Laid in a grave beside his family

That day Ninety cannons had fired out in Hyde Park
For every year of the Wartime Leader's life
His widow, before going to sleep that night, told their daughter
"It wasn't a funeral, Mary - it was a triumph.

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