A very personal post written for me which may be of interest 🙂 .
Walking across our Town’s ‘Common’ this morning, making my way toward the war memorial built in remembrance to local fallen soldiers who died in the Great War, each year I think to myself, ‘yes November 11th is the true beginning of winter, cold blustery and not a leaf on the trees!’
Minutes later I stood quietly respectfully and solemly alongside thousands of other town’s folk, me gazing up at the 12 foot high stone cross, and this year as you’d expect I have never seen so many people at our service of remembrance, infact I wasn’t able to watch the wreath laying simply because 15 rows of people stood before me and many more behind, but watching the service isn’t the point to attending each year.
I’m not a particullaly religious person, I don’t go to church or say my prayers but there is something definitely spiritual about standing amongst crowds of people, all deep in their own thoughts of what remembrance Sunday means to themselves………………. and yes the 2 minute silence sandwiched between 2 bugle calls, the one church bell no longer ringing, was a touch emotional in a respectful kind of way.
So what does attending remembrance mean to me? I watch wreaths being laid by our representatives from local armed services, observe the minutes silence but my thoughts are solely remembering my Great Grandfather. He served in the Hampshire Regiment, sailed to Northern France in 1917 where he served as a lowly private yet he didn’t fight in the trenches. Great Grandfather was based near to Ypres in the Somme Region doing ‘his bit for king and Country’ by serving as an army meat butcher……………. no he didn’t see action but soldiers have to eat don’t they.
After the war he returned to his village in Cinderford in the heart of ‘The forest of Dean’, along with his five brothers two of which were injured in battle, then many years later I wrote to my Great Aunt asking if she had any war stories from her father’s time in France, but she could tell me very little except he came home to his butcher’s shop and helped found a local branch of the Royal British Legion. Again many years ago now, my Grandmother once showed me a ‘clipping’ taken from a local newspaper at the time of his funeral, and pictured I could see one hundred flag bearers from the Royal British Funeral paying their respects.
From all accounts my Great Grandfather was a wonderful man, a father, church elder and respected member of his community, and although too old to serve in WW2 he again did his bit serving as an ARP Warden aiding the local Police Force……… So there you are my Great Grandfather is reason I attend our local remembrance each year without fail, and although I never met the man, for two minutes I wonder what horrors he may have seen around Ypres, also what the Royal British Legion personally meant to him.
Above you see a treasured picture borrowed from a much loved family album, incidentally now I’m much older I realise how lucky I am to be able to attach so many of my ancestor’s names to their faces on a photograph, I’ve my Grandmother to thank for that!
Pictured below photographs taken by me yesterday, with flower beds of red plastic poppies also knitted woollen poppies hanging around trees and all knitted by local residents. You’ll also see our war memorial absent of crowds of people.
Pictured below you see several photographs taken (by myself) looking through the front window of ‘Helen and Douglas House Charity shop’ to be more exact. My mother helped with the display, the gas mask belonged to my Grandmother and the ARP Warden’s helmet (just out of view top right) belonged to my Great Grandfather in WW2.
A. Shepherdson 2018