The Salvation Army will once again join church leaders, politicians, foreign leaders and war veterans at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, as part of the National Service of Remembrance on Sunday 13 November.
As in previous years, Chief Secretary Colonel David Hinton will lay a wreath at the Cenotaph in remembrance of all who lost their lives in conflict.
Following this, 23 officers and Salvationists will be on the March Past to commemorate The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in world wars and to recognise the support given to those in armed conflicts today, including through military chaplains.
Two of those people have served in the military and are currently training to be Salvation Army officers at our William Booth College, Denmark Hill.
One of those is Amy-Jo Battersby, 23, from Yorkshire. She joined up to serve with the Royal Corps of Signals, the leaders in Information Technology and Communications for the British Army in 2009. Her regiment was 2 Signal Regiment and she first signed up after leaving school. She served for six months in Afghanistan and also went on numerous tours and exercises – serving in the Army for six years.
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Amy-Jo’s last day as a Lance Corporal was shortly after she started her training for a different kind of Army in September 2015 to become a Salvation Army officer.
She said: “I felt called while I was in Afghanistan to serve God in this way as a Salvation Army officer. I had a real passion and on my leave I spent a lot of time at my Salvation Army church – known as Wombwell Corps – helping with activities and I thought this could be the right avenue for me.
“During my Salvation Army training I have helped at Faith House – a Salvation Army centre based in King’s Cross which reaches out to people in the sex industry, and also have been a transport volunteer for The Salvation Army’s anti-trafficking and modern slavery unit – helping transport victims of modern slavery to safety in The Salvation Army’s safe houses. During my training I have also led a Salvation Army church in Twickenham.”
Of attending the march past the Cenotaph, Amy-Jo, said: “I know people who have been hurt at war. I know people who have died in war. Just to be able to remember them, their friends, and families is important.”
Steve Callister, 33, is also training to become a Salvation Army officer having previously served in the military. He served in the Navy for 15 years (from 1999 to 2014), and had many different roles including supporting the Royal Marines and the Army as well as time at sea. He did three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Steve has suffered from PTSD in the past and despite wanting to go to the Remembrance Day service he has not felt able to. So his involvement in the march past the Cenotaph with The Salvation Army this year will be particularly significant.
He said: “I have wanted to go to this service for the past two years since I left the Royal Navy and was at The Salvation Army’s training college, however, I have been suffering from PTSD so have not felt able to go. I am a lot better now and I would like to go, not just out of respect for my friends who died, but also so I could show support to the guys who are serving now.”
He grew up in The Salvation Army and attended The Salvation Army’s church in Falmouth, but lost his faith as a teenager. However, it was during his time in the Navy in 2011, that he decided to get in touch with a Christian organisation, and found his faith again. At that point he knew he was being called by God to become a Salvation Army officer, but it became clearer he needed to follow up his sense of calling when he attended a Salvation Army church in Dubai after four months out at sea, and the theme of the service was “calling”. He is now training as a distance learning cadet to become a Salvation Army officer and hopes he will be able to share his faith with others who have served in the military.