Friday, 11 November 2011

Remembering on 11.11.11

My great uncles body was never found but his name is engraved on this wall near the battlefield at Loos
His brother  Fred  was killed at Ypres and is buried in a churchyard nearby.
The photo is an old family one.

My family has been deeply affected by war

My grandfather served in France in World War 1
Two great uncles were killed .One at Ypres.One at Loos
My father served in Burma in World War 2.
My Mum's house was hit by an incendiary bomb during the blitz on London.

They saw terrible things. I never remember my grandfather speaking about the war.My father
refused to speak about it.
Dad did however write a book which he published privately just before his death .
Reading that ,I learned on one occasion the tank he was commanding was hit, he was the only survivor, and the next day dad had to go back into the burnt out tank,lift out the fly infested bodies of his comrades, and bury them.It was the stench of burnt and rotting flesh that affected him most.

I am so grateful I never had to fight

War is not glorious,it is always failure.
I am not a pacifist, so I believe it is sometimes necessary as a last resort.
What astonishes me most though are the individual acts of courage and bravery so often seen

Today I remember them, and indeed give thanks for them, and  the fact we live in Freedom.
It is a freedom bought at a great price.

There was talk in the 1980's and 1990's of abandoning  Remembrance Sunday.

Today though ,it has a higher profile than ever, partly because of recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ,partly because so many  British secondary school children visit the battlefields in Belgium and France and see the graves of the war dead in their  hundreds of thousands.They are often graves of people not much older than themselves when they died.

I will wear my poppy on Sunday, not with pride, but with great humility, and with deep prayer  to God that the future may be more peaceful than the past and that peace and justice would reign on the earth.

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