Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A Nation Falls Silent on Armistice Day 2014

To mark Armistice Day this year and 100 years from the start of WW1 the last ceramic poppy is planted at the Tower of London display by 13 year old cadet Harry Hayes. There are 888,246 flowers, one to represent each of the 888,246 lives that were lost in the Great War. As the last post was played just before 11am the nation fell silent in remembrance.

There have been calls for the display to remain up longer but tomorrow hundreds of volunteers will start gradually removing the art work. The poppies that have been sold to individuals will then go to be cleaned and packaged up for sending out and another portion is set to go on tour around the country before finding a permanent home at the Imperial War Museum. I think the decision to remove them after Armistice Day is the right one. It is a marvelous piece of art work that has touched millions and achieved in my opinion everything it set out to do in commemorating those lives lost and just as those lives were cut short far sooner than life would normally have demanded, so this art work in it's full form has reached the end of it's life span. The gradually removing of the poppies to me represents the tide of life that was lost over the period of WW1 and to me is as poignant as the full display.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Ryde Pier on Countryfile

If anyone else has a love of old seaside piers then tonights episode of Countryfile on BBC 1 should be good. The oldest pier left in Britain gets start billing. Ryde pier on the Isle of Wight which was  originally built in 1814 but altered and adapted many times over the years is this year celebrating the 200th anniversary since it's original beginnings.

Monday, 4 August 2014

The lights go out 1914 -2014

“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime” 
 Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary, August 1914

100 years ago tonight 11.00pm the 4th of August 1914 Britain officially declared war and so began the Great War or World War 1 as it was to become known. Today has not been one of celebration but commemoration, a day to reflect on that momentous day and the effect it would have on a whole nation and the world. The British legion has invited everyone in the UK to join in the remembrance being held at Westminster Abbey tonight, by turning out all their lights between 9.00 and 10.00pm leaving just one light or candle lit to mark the moment and to use the hour as a period of reflection.

Virtually no family was left untouched by the war or the great social changes it would bring in it's wake. My own ancestors either joined in the battle, did war work on the home front or in the case of my grandmother a young motherless girl at the time, she was sent to stay with relatives in London and ever after always had vivid reconciliations of hiding in the allotments when the zeppelins flew overhead. Turning our lights off is a small but poignant act of remembrance. A time now beyond living memory but one that should never be forgotten never the less. The Great War brought much change, one of the most chilling being that for the first time war became mechanical and so by default did death, all innocence, as well as a generation of youth, was lost in the carnage that would follow. A view we could not see 100 years ago tonight but now with the benefit of hindsight is all to clear.

Phillip Larkin

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day—

And the countryside not caring:
The place names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat’s restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word – the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

 We Remember 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Armistice Day - At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we remember.

On Armistice Day, the country will again be asked to pause for two minutes silent remembrance in memory of those who have served and died for Britain. The silence takes place at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - the time the guns fell silent along the Western front in 1918, and an armistice was declared. It was first observed in November 1919 following a suggestion by an Australian journalist. The proposal was supported by a former high commissioner to South Africa and endorsed by the cabinet and King George V just a few days before the first anniversary of the armistice. 

When you go home, tell them of us and say
For their tomorrow, we gave our today.

John Maxwell Edmonds (1875–1958)

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remembrance Sunday

In remembrance of the fallen, those who served, and those who still serve.

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Robert Laurence Binyon