Monday, 4 August 2014

Lest We Forget

As we sit here with our lights out and our single candles burning, its time to reflect what was about to happen 100 years ago today. We entered the war and what was about to unfold was 4 years of misery and the
death of 908,000 killed and 2,123,000 wounded from British and Commonwealth troops. The death toll horrific and so many underage men going to war. The youngest British soldier was 12 years old, Sidney Lewis was just 12 years old when he lied about his age and joined the army during World War One. He was one of thousands of eager underage boys who enlisted and ended up fighting alongside their adult counterparts on the front. Some were motivated by patriotism, but for others it was an escape from their dreary lives. so many mothers lost their children to the War, women lost their husbands and children lost their fathers.

So many men had their lives taken away from them and the bodies were never returned for the families to give them a proper funeral, you hear so much about graves of the unknown soldier and that is a family that never knew what had happened to their son/brother/dad.

one story i will always remember from learning in school is  that on Christmas Eve, 1914, both sides declared an unofficial truce and sung Christmas carols to each other. A football match was played in no-man’s land trenches, and German and British soldiers exchanged food and souvenirs.The following Christmas, sentries on both sides had orders to shoot any soldier who did this.

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.

by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

so many sacrificed for war - lest we forget

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