Jimmy Cricket paid tribute to the war dead recently with a visit to a famous European memorial.
The well-known Northern Irish entertainer attended the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.
The gate has historically been a crossing point over the moat and through the ramparts of the old town fortifications, on the road to the nearby town of Menin.
It had a special significance for Allied troops during World War I as it was from this place that thousands of soldiers set off for the part of the Front called the Ypres Salient – with many of them destined never to return.
The new Menin Gate was built on the same site in the form of a Roman triumphal arch (see photo below) and was opened in July 1927 when the Last Post was played by buglers from the Somerset Light Infantry.
Since 1928, buglers from the Last Post Association have been playing the Last Post at the Menin Gate every night at 8pm. Only during World War II was the ceremony interrupted.
In military tradition, the Last Post is the bugle call that signifies the end of the day’s activities and is also sounded at military funerals to indicate that the soldier has gone to his/her final rest and at commemorative services such as Remembrance Day.
The walls of the Menin Gate are engraved with the names of nearly 55,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers lost on the field of battle but with no known graves.
Jimmy posted on social media: “Here attending, “The Last Post at the Menin Gate”, tribute to all those who lost their lives in the 155 war cemeteries which now surround modern-day Ypres!”
Jimmy Cricket has been paying tribute to “one of the all-time great theatrical agents” in his latest column in the Lancashire Evening Post.
The 72-year-old comedian recalls the career of Phyllis Rounce, who also managed the likes of Rod Hull and Emu, and Tony Hancock.
Rod Hull was a comedian, best known as a popular entertainer on British television in the 1970s and 1980s. He rarely appeared without Emu, a mute, highly aggressive arm-length puppet modelled on the Australian flightless emu bird.
Hancock was a high-profile comedian and actor during the 1950s and early 1960s, enjoying major success with his BBC series Hancock’s Half Hour, first broadcast on radio and then on television.
Jimmy said Phyllis – who was known as Phil to her friends – was an “exceptional manager who went the extra mile for her artistes”.
He added that she “had a love affair with showbusiness that started during the Second World War.
“She realised the part entertainment could play in boosting soldiers’ morale and keepng their spirits up on the way to the front.
“How lucky was I to be guided by a lady with such a caring nature and such creative vision.”
On social media channel Twitter, Jimmy said the June column in the Preston-based LEP was his “dedication and tribute to one of the all-time great theatrical agents in the world of showbusiness”.
A wall of fame photograph put on Facebook includes legendary entertainers such as Ken Dodd, Victoria Wood, Jimmy Cricket and George Formby.
The star-studded montage (right) of famous faces and celebrity autographs has been assembled over the years by Amy Phillips.
Jimmy said : “Amy is clearly a keen collector of autographs and the ones she has accumulated are proudly presented in a mounted display on the wall of one of her rooms.”
Alongside Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy on the wall of fame is actor, Peter Sallis who played Norman Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine, English comedian, actress, singer-songwriter, screenwriter and director Victoria Wood, British comedian, actor and television presenter Joe Pasquale and George Formby, OBE, who was a British actor, singer-songwriter and comedian.
George Formby was a major star of stage and screen in the 1930s and ’40s and his songs such as When I’m Cleaning Windows were particularly popular during the Second World War (1939–45).
Jimmy added: “Amy posted this picture on her Facebook page and I am thrilled to keep such celebrated company on her wall!”