Although the crypt at Canterbury Cathedral is usually quiet, there are always sounds to absorb or blank out; I think most people would soon find their inner silence undisturbed by passing footsteps of pilgrims or tourists passing by or finding a seat.
These steps were different, a measured tread, leather soles with steel segs to make the heels last longer, as worn by the Combined Cadet Force at my secondary school. The visitor advanced to the candle stand, took one, lit it, and positioned it upon the rack. A step back, and he stood ramrod straight before the altar for a minute, bowed deeply, turned and left. It was a man I have known by sight for maybe thirty years, but this was the first time I had seen him wearing the regimental tie of the Buffs, the East Kent Regiment, now amalgamated out of existence.
It was obviously an important date for him to mark in this way. When I searched the web I discovered that the Battle of Cambrai began on 20th November 1917 and many Buffs were involved.
Perhaps this man’s grandfather was in the battle, but he had come to the crypt in solidarity with his comrades, even with men he never knew; his regimental tie, his candle and his silent moment a prayer of hope for them and for this ravaged world; his visit, even if it was but a short walk from his home, a true pilgrimage.