On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we remember the fallen of the Great War.
Our Spring Chickens have shared their brave stories with us on our Facebook page. We thought it only fitting that we share those memories, so those that sacrificed their tomorrow for our today do not go forgotten particularly on this the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.
Whilst 100 years seems so long ago when you read these personal stories and watch the footage the sheer magnitude and horror of war is laid bare before you.
This is the sound of the guns falling silent on the Western Front in 1918……listen for the birdsong.
“Can you imagine what this moment must have felt like? The relief, the silence & the dawning fact that you made it through the 4 years of complete hell and we’re going home?” Peter Lacey.
“I wonder how many tears were shed immediately after the guns stopped.” Kevin Savory.
“I was OK until I heard the birdsong at the end.” Gillian Eve Phillpot.
“Can’t find any words.” Christina Bailey.
Whilst Christina is right the correct words are truly difficult to find they are however all we have. So don’t be silent on this anniversary share your words and your prayers so that we all can remember.
Spring Chickens Remember Their Loved Ones.
British Pathe has an amazing archive of film from the War. Armistice Day in 1920 – the funeral of Unknown Soldier as the coffin is brought from France to London Cenotaph. (courtesy of British Pathe).
“My Great, Great Uncle Henry Hendry was never found so he lies in the Valley of The Somme and his name is recorded on The Theipval Monument with 70,000 other soldiers. ” Tina Pentney.
“My great uncle was killed in action at Paschendale, no known grave, commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial for the Missing.” Lorraine Pease.
“I also have two great uncles commemorated at Tyne Cot and Thiepval, killed aged 21 and 17.” Mick and Sue Martin.
“My grandad was in that war I wish I knew him.” Pauline Wherry.
“My great-grandfather was in the Great War….got gassed….made it home, what was left of him….thank-you grandad, and Thank-you All of you.RIP.” Sue Rosser.
“Wonderful footage, Irish grandad died from mustard gassing after the 1st WW, my uncle lost his best friend and his eye in WW2 he went back and became a non commissioned Sargent. Lest we forget.” Kathleen Campbell.
“My grandad always told me to remember the unknown soldier as well as those that also died for us. Respect to them all and may they still be resting in peace. God bless” Pat Salmon.
“My grandad was in the 1st World War. It was hell, he thought he was going to die, no food, toilets and he was so cold with dead soldier’s in his trench. But he survived. The horror never left him. He was given a little sewing kit with a cross, picture of Jesus and a St Christopher ..he sewed it on a piece of cloth. I’ve got it now. To think that gave him hope.” Kate Bloomfield.
“Our grandad was in the great war. We are very proud of him and all those who fought in it. We were very lucky he came home. Respect to them all.” Janice Sherwen.
“My great-grandfather was missing, killed in action. 1917. No known grave but remembered on the Memorial at Arras, always in our hearts. RIP brave man x” Marion Bimson.
“My Dad died on 6th October 1944 In Holland near to Arnhem, he was 24 yrs old and a CSM!!! He was buried in an orchard on a farm where he fell and moved to Jonkerbos cemetery after the war !!! So many young have fallen in two world wars and the many conflicts since !!! The wars must stop or the sacrifices that were made by millions will all have been in vain !! May they all rest in peace!!” Barbara Parkin.
“My grandad came back from the First World War, thank goodness but never spoke about it, had shrapnel in his shoulder I believe all the others never forgotten.” Barbara Bates.
“My grandfather. He fought in the Somme. He lost his right arm but came home. One of the lucky ones. So many were lost, pure carnage. X” Margeret Denney
“My husband’s grandad was killed at the Somme he left a wife and six children. RIP John C Curry.” Ann Garbutt.
“Have never seen this footage. George V & his sons following the coffin. I wonder if they really knew the identity of the soldier. My Gt.Grandfather & Grandmothers’ Brother were both in WW1, they both survived but G.Brother was badly gassed. Thank you RIP.” Rosemary Ray.
“My brother died in Italy at the young age of 22.” Pat Abrahart.
“My brother died in Italy aged 19yrs x He gave his today for my tomorrow x R.I.P beautiful boy xxx” Pauline Rosalie Ashton.
“All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true poet must be truthful.”- Wilfred Owen.
Wilfred Owen’s own story tells a tale of loss and futility that typifies the War as much as his poetry has come to. Owen, having volunteered for service on 21st October 1915 was soon in the trenches, 3 feet deep in putrid water. Owen saw everything the War had to offer, the horrific winters, the gas attacks, the death of friends. After being blown up and shell-shocked he was sent to recover in Edinburgh were he met Siegfried Sassoon who inspired him to develop his poetry.
In September 1918 he was again back in the trenches where he won the Military Cross for bravery. As if part of one of his very own damning poems Owen was to be shot and killed on the 4th November near the village of Ors, France. The news of his passing reached his parents just as Armistice Day was being celebrated across the country on 11 November 1918.
Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares, we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
The Green Fields of France.
One of the most beautiful anti-war songs ever written by Eric Bogle.
“It’s a song that was written about the military cemeteries in Flanders and Northern France. In 1976, my wife and I went to three or four of these military cemeteries and saw all the young soldiers buried there.” – Eric Bogle.
“Both my grandfather’s fought in WW1 and thankfully both survived. My paternal grandfather was gassed but he lived until 1962. I spent most of my first 5 years sat at his feet whilst he told me stories he was my whole world. My maternal grandfather had to have a leg amputated and eye removed, he died in 1950 before I was born. My uncles were in WWII and my father joined the Navy towards the end. They survived having been slightly wounded. We owe so much to these generations of men and women, we must never allow them to fade into history as so many seem to want to happen these days.” Lorraine Wylde.
“My grandad came home safely from WW1 He was in the Royal Sussex regiment.” Sheila Gess.
Beyond The Deepening Shadow…..
The Tower of London’s Armistice Day celebrations is truly breathtaking…
“Lord love them all. Wherever they came from, they were a mothers son. You will never be forgotten. Rest well.” Margaret Denney.