What was meant to be a somber day of reflection and remembrance in Cheshire, England was shattered — literally — for the wont of a handbrake.
Two former soldiers were at the center of the gaffe after they forgot to deploy the brakes of a Scimitar armored reconnaissance vehicle during the village’s moment of silence during Remembrance Day on November 11.
Their stunt quickly went from a surprise to that of shock as the army vehicle careened out of control and crashed into the village’s memorial gate and garden.
“Residents had been told there was a surprise and we had been guessing all week what it would be,” one villager remarked to the Manchester Evening News. “You couldn’t have written it — it was like something out of Dad’s Army.”
War Christmas disaster as Bollington councillor and ex-mayor hire tank for Remembrance day, forget to put brakes on and end up wrecking the town's war memorial gates.
— Otto English (@Otto_English) November 17, 2021
The former soldiers, Bollington councillor Mark Fearn and ex-mayor Andy Langdon, had splashed out £950 (around $1280) to rent the armored vehicle for the day and could be seen laughing and waving as they drove through the village towards the memorial gardens.
The pair — Christmas and Dunne if you will — sought to surprise the village of Bollington with the 7.8-tonne armored vehicle as part of the Remembrance Day commemoration. Instead, they drew the ire, and perhaps a chuckle or two, from the local villagers and the Royal British Legion.
Fearn later confessed in the community Facebook group that it was he, not Langdon, that caused the kerfuffle.
“Oops,” Fearn wrote. “A bit embarrassed to say the least… I will be making a personal donation to RBL.”
The RBL was not amused, however, and a spokesperson for the RBL told CheshireLive, “We are aware of an incident in Bollington on Armistice Day and our membership team are currently investigating.
“We were not aware beforehand that this vehicle would be used on Thursday, and it is entirely inappropriate.”
So, keep that in your back pocket. For roughly £1k you too can ruin a day of remembrance.