musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Poppy

The Mud of Passchendaele

On 31 July 1917 the third battle of Ypres started. but it is more commonly remembered as the Battle of Passchendaele. A name synonymous with mud, wasted lives and no gains for the high cost in human lives. The battle took place on the Western Front, from July to November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the city of Ypres in West Flanders, and was part of strategy decided by the Allies at conferences in November 1916 and May 1917.

An estimated 245,000 allied casualties (dead, wounded or missing) fell in 103 days of heavy fighting. many of those killed were buried in the mud, never to be seen again. 

South Africans generally recognise the Battle of Delville Wood as our “definitive battle”, and as such we do not commemorate it the way Delville Wood is commemorated, and a quick search for 31/07/1917 at the South African War Graves Project website will only bring up three pages of names, of which at least one page may be discounted as not occurring in the battle. However, from 31 July 1917 many families in the United Kingdom would be discovering that they had lost a father, or a son, or a husband. My current project is called “Lives of the First World War” and there I am encountering many of the casualties from that battle. I was particularly struck by a private memorial that I photographed in Reading Cemetery in 2015.

Serjeant Charles Stewart MM. lost his life on 31 July 1917, probably in this very campaign. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate like so many of his countrymen and comrades who would loose their lives tomorrow, 100 years ago.  He is also remembered on this overgrown gravestone that I found by chance. 

The sad reality is that  little, if any, strategic gain was made during the offensive, which was in fact a total of eight battles.  It increased the soldiers distrust of their leaders, especially Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, and left many soldiers utterly demoralised, shell shocked or badly wounded. The often atrocious weather just made things that much worse for Tommy on the ground, whereas the Generals, far behind the lines could condemn the lack of progress safely in the dry map rooms of their headquarters.    

The French lost 8,500 soldiers. while estimates for German casualties range from 217,000 to around 260,000. Bearing in mind that each one of these casualties had parents, possibly wives, occasionally children. A single death would have repercussions that would affect many more people.

World War One is really a series of disasters, The Somme battlefields, the icey sea of Jutland, the slaughter of Gallipoli, the mud of Passchendaele, the horrors of chemical warfare, the rattle of machine guns and the cries of the wounded and the dieing.

There were many heroes in these battles, and many wore the uniforms of nurses who had to drag extra strength from within to deal with the flood of blood in the casualty clearing stations as the wounded were brought in. Their story is often overlooked amongst the khaki uniforms, but their sacrifice was equally important. A light of sanity in a world of blood soaked madness.

We commemorate the battle from the 30th of July, but for those caught up in the trenches the hell would continue right through until November.  The only light on the horizon was that it would all stop a year later on the 11th of November 1918. 

Unfortunately, we never seemed to learn those lessons from the First World War, because a second war was looming in the future, and that war would define our world from then onwards.  

Remember the Dead.

“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.”

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 30/07/2017. The “Ode of Remembrance” is from Laurence Binyon‘s poem, “For the Fallen“, which was first published in The Times in September 1914. 
Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:56

Remembrance Day 13/11/2016

Following Armistice Day we commemorate Remembrance Day  and this year I spent it in Tewkesbury. Last year I had not been able to be at the War Memorial in person, but this year I did.

The service is held at the Abbey, and then everybody moves to the War Memorial at the major crossroads in town. I did not attend the Abbey service, but waited till it ended,  taking photographs in and around the graveyard while I waited. There is a very  poignant memorial to Major James Cartland who was killed on 27 May 1918 and it has been the focus of the Somme 100 commemorations.

While I was taking these images the service ended and the people started to leave the Abbey

I changed position to where the parade would be marching out from, and it was a long parade too.

Apart from the military there are a number of civilian groups in the parade, including military veterans, emergency service, scouts, school groups, and all shapes and sizes and colours and creeds. The problem is that by the time the front of the parade has reached the memorial the rear hasn’t left yet.

The area around the memorial is in the shape of a Y standing slightly skew, with the memorial in the centre on a small island. The through roads had been blocked off and just as well as the small area around the memorial was packed. 

I ended up close to the memorial, but nowhere close enough to see the base of it. I am sure that most of the town was there, and it is not a large town. The one thing I have seen in the UK is that people take the period around Remembrance Day seriously. 

It is hard to know how children process the events, certainly those in the parade must have known a bit about why they were there, and I am sure that some must have family connected to the armed forces. I do not think I ever attended one when I was young in South Africa, but I am sure my father did. It does not really matter though, what is important is that we were here with a common purpose. I dusted off my beret for the occasion, and was probably the only Bokkop in town. 

Unfortunately the low angle of the sun and the surrounding buildings cast dark shadows over the parade, but at least there was sun, sort of… 

And then the last post was played and there was 2 minutes of  silence.  The two minutes of silence originates in Cape Town; one minute was a time of thanksgiving for those who had returned alive, the second minute was to remember the fallen. Before the period of silence a bugler plays the Last Post and Reveille signals the end of the silence. It is a very moving moment, and the only noise was the occasional small child who may have been puzzled by the cessation of hubbub around them.

And then we reaffirmed our commitment to the fallen and those who survived:

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.

Called the “Ode of Remembrance”,  it is taken from Laurence Binyon‘s poem, “For the Fallen“, which was first published in The Times in September 1914.

And then it was over, the parade marched out from around the memorial to form up once again.

and the memorial was once more visible.

The parade then marched past the memorial, presenting their salutes and under the command “eyes right”. I would hope that those who marched past today will one day stand where I was and watch servicemen and women from the future march past too. 

and while the front of the column was smartly turned out, things became slightly more ragged as we reached the back.

But, if amongst those kids just one takes this parade to heart and becomes a greater part of Remembrance then I acknowledge their salute. 

I took a short walk down the road to check out a building, and when I returned to the area of the memorial things were almost back to normal with traffic restored and families were heading home and people in uniform going wherever they went after a parade like this.

The poppies will slowly disappear from the shops and clothing, although some of us will keep them visible for much longer. The wreaths will fade and and the red dye will run in the rain, frost will cover the memorial and once again clouds of exhaust fumes will envelop it. I always thought it was a stupid place to put a war memorial, but if you really think about it, everybody that drives past here has to see it, and maybe that is a good thing after all.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 13/11/2016 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:31

Photo Essay: The Sunday Blommie

As Winter changed to Spring and then to Summer I cannot help but watch the transformation of the area around me. The large field I go past on the cycle track is a mass of vegetation. The Brook is running low and the vegetation is becoming more thicker as time passes.

One of the oddities I have been watching are two plant species that I had never seen before. The first is associated with Scotland.

I had not noticed that there were Thistles on my route until they started to flower, and they are really very pretty. The dominant spikey plant I had been seeing is known as a Teasle and I was eager to see what they looked like when they flowered, 

Their bushes are over a metre high, with multiple heads that are huge. I was not sure what they would look like when they flowered though, I suspected it would by similar to the thistle; a head of purple flowers. I was wrong, and they turned out to be very different to what I expected.

I expect during this week all the remaining Teasles will start exploding in colour, and hopefully they will not get knocked down by rampaging children with too much time on their hands. 

On my way to the supermarket the other morning I nearly fell off my bike when I saw this huge member of the thistle family.

Known as a “Cardoon” it is also known as an the artichoke thistle. There were only the two flowers in bloom when I first saw it.

I have been keeping an eye on it each time I was in the area  and it is now in the closing stages of blooming by the looks of it, and last night (12/08) I shot this image

The whole area has become an eruption of colour as the seasons have changed, and while I am generally not a flower lover I have been taking photographs of some of the gardens and displays in the town. Frankly I have been very impressed. 

Flowers by the boat load

Flowers by the boat load

I usually post my “Sunday Blommie” pics to my friend in South Africa for her to admire. and what strikes me is I do not recall seeing such floral displays in South Africa because the houses  all tend to have these giant walls with electrified fences on them. This is however just a small selection of what I see as the seasons have changed. And appropriately I have also seen the flower the epitomises the many World War One posts I have been making lately:

The red of the poppy and the purple of the thistle. It tells us a lot about those many brave men who lost their lives fighting with the South African Scottish Regiments 100 years ago.

Postscript:

It is now almost the end of September, Autumn is raging, and the teasles? their time is over until next year.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 24/07/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:25

I wear a Poppy To Remember….

I wear a Poppy To Remember….

my Father: a signalman; who was captured in North Africa during World War 2

my Grandfather, a rifleman, who was wounded in Delville Wood

my Uncle: an air mechanic, who died in Egypt during World War 2, and who is the reason for my war grave photography

 

I remember the soldiers that I served with and who never completed their national service in South Africa.

Lionel Van Rooyen, Johann Potgieter, Peter Hall,  Hennie Van Der Colf

I remember those men of the South African Native Labour Corps who lost their lives in the sinking of the Mendi

I remember all of those other African and South African soldiers who have been largely unrecognised for their service

 

I remember the dedicated  nurses, VAD’s and other women who served in medical disciplines during and after the wars, many never returned and were victims of the conflict.

 

I remember the merchant seamen who faced not only a determined enemy, but the sea in all its fury, often in coffin ships that were only one screw turn away from the breakers yard. 

 

I remember those who have no grave, and who are just names on a memorial

I remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen, civilians, children and animals who lost their lives in the folly we call total war 

I remember the 6 million Jews who were exterminated
 
 
And the millions of other casualties who were caught up in the madness
 
I remember those who were left behind

and those who will die tomorrow, or next week, or next year, defending their country, their comrades, and their families; often for a cause they do not understand.

I remember them all because it is important to never forget them and to never drag the world down into the horror of total war, and I curse those who sit in positions of power and who create the conflagration but who never die in it, for they are a curse upon mankind. May they have to answer for the monsters that they unleash and may their punishment be eternal. 

 

When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today

 

Postscript.
Words do not adequately describe the feelings that I have around about this time of the year,  I served as a national serviceman in 1980/81, and when I first went in I did not think that at the end of 1981 I would have 4 names in my memory that would be with me until I die. My grandfather was a soldier, my father was a soldier, as was my brother, and so was I, my father and grandfather were volunteers, my brother and I were conscripts.  

It is difficult to quantify all of those who I have omitted, I could probably fill reams of paper with groups of people who were affected by warfare, and of course who continue to be affected by warfare. The images on this page are my own with the exception of the image of the grave of my late uncle Robert Turner who is really the reason I photograph war graves. I never knew him, but my mother did, and she still mourns him to this day. 
Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:34

Remembrance Day, 09/11/2014

By the time I finish this, Remembrance Day will be fading. I am in a new city, starting a new job tomorrow, and it has been an overall hectic weekend. My plan was to attend the commemoration in Salisbury, and immediately afterwards to head for Basingstoke. The weather on Saturday had been wet and cold and I was really worried that the day would be rained out. However, like last year in Southampton, the sun graced us with its light. It was a glorious, if not slightly chilly day. 

The Wreath Laying would take place outside the Guildhall and at the War Memorial on the market square. Because of its placing I have always struggled to get decent images of the war memorial. Usually the sun rises behind it so any morning shots just don’t work, and then it gets really busy around here and there are gazillions of people around. I guess I have always been meaning to get better shots, but I never have.

Because of my moving I arrived just as the column of old soldiers and servicemen and women were moving off and there were crowds lining the streets to see them go. Poppies (and puppies) abounded. 

The crowd around the memorial was 5 deep in places, and security was everywhere. I have to admit that  I was glad to see so many parents bringing their children along, and how many were wearing their poppies with pride.

 

And once the columns had arrived, the dignitaries came out of the Guildhall and joined the ceremony. It was not a long drawn out one, but the poignant call of The Last Post made everybody aware that we were here at a special time, and that there were no old soldiers from the First World War to join in. 

 
After the 2 minute silence there was the Kohima Epitaph, which really sums it all up.
When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today.

After the official wreaths were laid, and the soldiers and scouts marched off, it was time to approach the memorial and if need be pay our own tribute. 

 

The memorial was bedecked with the familiar red and black wreaths that are used on these occasions. And there was a green poppy field to plant any poppy crosses on.

I laid a cross to represent my family members who had served, and for the friends that lost their lives in the border war. They are the ones I remember. Each of those small plywood crosses represents many things, but often it is tangible link between those today and those who never came back.

 

And then it was time to go, I had a train to catch and I would be leaving this city where I have lived for just under a year to start anew elsewhere. But I left a small part of me behind,  and when I pass this way next weekend I shall stop and check on the memorial, and hopefully it will still be bright and filled with the reminders of those who went before.

In memory of Robert Owen Turner,  Herbert Turner, David Walker, Mathys Slabbert, Lionel Van Rooyen, Johan Potgieter, Peter Hall and Hennie Van Der Colff.

© DRW 2014-2018. Created 09/11/2014. Images recreated 20/04/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 08:54

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

This morning I headed into London with the express purpose of viewing the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” installation at the Tower of London. Time is drawing near when the weather will close up, the rail tickets will become expensive, and the 11th of November is upon us. Of course this was only one of three destinations that I had in mind for my day out, but more about those later.
 
The moat of the Tower is currently being filled with 888246 ceramic poppies, each representing a British Military fatality during World War 1.  That is a lot of poppies, and seeing the real thing is overwhelming.
 
I realised that there were a lot of people there when our queue to get off the underground platform at Tower Hill ground to a halt. There were people everywhere, and I suspect that many, like myself, were really shocked at the sheer size of the red patch that is seemingly flowing out from an opening in the battlements into the moat. 
 
  
But once you step back and look along the length of the moat you suddenly get a sense of scale of the size of the project, and the numbers of casualties that are being commemorated. 
Each poppy is hand placed, and the installation is scheduled to be completed by November 11, I do not know how many have been placed already, but there are still two months to go and the moat is a very large area. Looking at the numbers, they have to place over 9000 poppies a day which means there are roughly 100000 in place already. 
 

 
It is really breathtaking to see,  as numbers lost in warfare goes 800000 is not a lot, but when you see all of these poppies you need to consider that for every poppy there was a mother and father, possibly siblings, wives, children and loved ones. Each poppy connected a family to a person, and those family members are sometimes unaware that they have somebody in their past that is represented by one of these ceramic flowers. 
 
The work is the brainchild of Paul Cummins, who has really made a monument that just says so much, and which is going to be unbelievable when it is completed.
 
 
I do not know if I will see it again, but I do think that this is one of the most effective memorials I have seen for those who never came home. 
 
More information about the installation and the charities that will be benefiting from the sale of the poppies is available on the The Tower of London Remembers Website
 
© DRW 2014-2018. Images recreated 19/04/2016
Updated: 30/12/2017 — 20:35

04/11/1914 – 04/11/2014

On the 4th of August 1914 the so called “War to End all Wars” became the world obsession until 11 November 1918.  It was not a healthy obsession, in fact it was a disaster of global proportions, and would bring forth an even greater carnage in 1939.

On this date, 100 years ago, Britain declared war on Germany. The carnage was about to commence.

“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”.

A lantern from Delville Wood.

The problem is, there are no more living soldiers from that war who can remind us of what they went through, and  we are 100 years divorced from this day in history. We concern ourselves with mundane things like bandwidth, mobile devices, nail art, vapid celebrities, fashion, and materialism. The men in the trenches were probably more concerned that those who sent them into battle were seemingly so divorced from the battlefield that they threw away lives in a seemingly concerted effort to rack up the most casualties in one day.
 
It is difficult to really picture the monstrous battles with the sunny skies and trees and red blood spilling on the shell ravaged battlefield, it is impossible to imagine waiting for the whistle to blow and mounting the parapet of the trench to die a few steps later. I cannot imagine the courage of those men who walked across no mans land because some ass of a staff officer decreed it so. Of course our view of the war is not from the German point of view either, in fact I suspect that there is very little written about the German troops who waited in their dugouts for the barrage to lift so that they could start to massacre the oncoming Tommy regiments.
 
I have found a few books that deal with the casualty clearing stations, but I cannot quite get my head around the thought of the pain and suffering that happened there. Or the doctors and staff that had to make some sort of sense out of the carnage. It is all surreal, it doesn’t exist in our 24 million colour LED monitors, instead it is in 256 shades of grey. 
 
The commemoration is gearing up in a large way here in the UK, and I expect that by the time Remembrance Day arrives on 11 November many people will be thinking of that day in a new light. Tonight all around Britain people will be turning off their lights at 10pm, my own lights are going out shortly after I publish this blogpost. it is a small way to recognise that this was a momentous event in history, and one that will be remembered all around the globe, albeit in a globe that still fights wars, still kills innocents, and still does not realise that it is all really senseless.
 
 

Tonight we remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen, nurses, and all service personnel and their loved ones, we remember them because we dare not forget!

 

© DRW 2014-2018. Created 04/08/2014. Images recreated 19/04/2016, Candle gif by http://www.sevenoaksart.co.uk/animated-candles.htm

 
Updated: 30/12/2017 — 20:35

Reflections on Remembrance Day.

Remembrance Day has come and gone. At this time in 1914 (roughly 21H00) the soldiers were probably still dazed as they contemplated the silence around them, and the fact that they had survived. Many however would still suffer the consequences of their service for the rest of their lives, and for some of those servicemen the rest of their lives was a very short time. The after affects of their time fighting would affect their health, both mentally and physically. Many would return to broken homes and unemployment, while others would find solace in alcohol, and some would find peace in suicide. 
 
Wind forward to yesterday, and I attended the two services that I had wanted to attend. The service at the Cenotaph was well attended by the people of Southampton, with a large honour guard and a band. They formed up outside the Guildhall and marched the short distance to the Cenotaph which isn’t too far away. 
  
The weather was glorious, after a week of cold and wet, the sun decided to bless the occasion and we had a sunshine filled Autumn day.
 
I was at the back of the honour guard so could not really see much of what was going on in front, but then it was more about the occasion than being able to eyeball the proceedings. Besides, squaddies were dropping like flies, and the St Johns Ambulance girls had quite a time rescuing those who could not stay the distance. Many of the honour guard came from local youth regiments that are affiliated to full time military regiments, so many of the participants were quite young. 
  
What I found interesting was the many other religious groups that were present and who offered “Prayers and reflection in remembrance of the dead”. What struck me though was that this was a city that had tasted real warfare, not too far away is the park that had an air raid shelter in that was hit by a bomb, and the building in sight of my window had been destroyed in the bombing. And many of the elderly that stood on the sidelines may have been young when the war was raging. 

Then the wreaths were laid and the speeches were over, and the National Anthem was sung. An odd moment for me as the anthem this time around was different to what I was used to in South Africa. 
The parade started to disperse and I headed across to the cenotaph to have a look,

The red Poppy Wreaths were neatly laid out on the steps in front of the flat altar like stone that is inscribed: 
 
Their Name Liveth For Evermore” 
  
There was also a mini Garden of Remembrance where people could place individual crosses if they wished, and suddenly I regretted not having one with me, although I did have some back home. 
  

Then it was time to watch the honour guard march off and head my own way, I had about an hour before I had to leave for the cemetery, so at least I could grab a cuppa and change into something that was less likely to be destroyed by the often thorny vegetation in parts of the cemetery.

I arrived in good time at Southampton Old Cemetery, and was met by members of the friends group that takes care of this wonderful cemetery. I have come to know quite a few of them and had I not been heading off to Salisbury would have definitely become a member.
The cemetery has over 100 CWGC war graves in it, and I recently photographed roughly 96 for the British War Graves Project, so I do know where quite a few are. The graves had been cleaned up by the friends and already the weather was starting to change the colour of the white headstones.  There is a Cross of Sacrifice at the cemetery, and this was where the Commemoration for Remembrance Sunday was to be held.

What was interesting is that there was a representative from CWGC present at the service, along with the Mayor of Southampton who had lost family in the war too. I dont think that he was the only one though, a number of elderly people were present, and I am sure some of the family may lay here or at Hollybrook.

The honour guard was not a large one, but then there wasn’t enough space for a company strength guard, and many of the members were youngsters who had also been in the guard earlier in the morning.

Five cadets had been assigned to various headstones and were on hand to tell the story of the the casualty that occupied the grave,  it was a great concept, and one that could be expanded in many ways in the future.

The service was brief, and 5 wreaths were laid by dignitaries, while a lone piper played his lament in the background. It was a moving service, and much more personal than that I had attended earlier in the morning. From there we moved across to the Belgian War Memorial in the cemetery where the Honorary Consul for Belgium in Southampton laid a wreath in remembrance of the Belgians that are buried in the cemetery.

And then it was over. I paid a visit to the grave of a Lt Stanley James Young, an airman from the RFC that died on 23 December 1917 in a collision in the air during training.

The cadet assigned to his grave provided an interesting insight into somebody that can choose whether to take up a military career or not, unlike us who were conscripted. I just hope that one day he makes the right decision, and does not become one of the statistics that go to war and never return.

With all that completed it was time to bid the cemetery farewell. It was probably the last time that I would walk those grounds, so it was with some sadness that I walked through the familiar paths and past my favourite graves. It is a memory preserved in my photographic collection now, and hopefully I will find a new place to root around in when I am in Salisbury.

I did have one more thing to do though. I had managed to buy a plywood cross at the cemetery and on my way home I planted it at the mini Garden of Remembrance at the Cenotaph. On it I had written the names of those I remembered on this day,  they are always young, and I know that they are not forgotten. One day somebody else will be the custodian of those names, it is an important task, but one which we must keep alive or we may forget the lesson that those terrible wars supposedly taught us.

 

Finally, on Monday 11th of November, at 11am. the company I work for paused for two minutes. The radio was on a BBC station, and they tolled the bell and suddenly we were all left with our thoughts, I did not expect this to happen, but the line manager had said that people could participate in that 2 minute silence, and everybody did.  I felt very proud, and humbled that so many cared.

And so we close the period of Remembrance till next year when it will be the 100th anniversary of the commencement of that horrible waste of life. I don’t know where I will be then, hopefully it will still be in the UK, and once again I will attend the local service to pay my respects. At least I know I will not be alone.

© DRW 2013-2018. Images replaced 14/04/2016
 
Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:50

Remembrance Day 2013

I must admit that I am pleased to see the many Poppies on display in Southampton and Salisbury, it brings the whole Remembrance Day closer to me as as we approach the 11th of November. Back in South Africa such displays were rare, and even finding a poppy to buy was difficult. Alas, many of They do not grow old, as we grow old those who used to stand in the shopping malls with their medals and collection boxes have passed on, and a lot of the ex servicemen groups closed ranks as their membership slowly died off. And then of course we had the case of a shopping centre in Sandton that would not allow poppy sellers in its ivory towers, perhaps they thought that these men did not fit in with the yuppie crowd that they wanted in their mall. Yuppies do not seem to die in wars.
 
Coming back to reality though, as an ex national serviceman myself, I too have lost friends during my period in the military, so I wear a poppy for them too. This past year I saw a photograph of one of the boys we lost, and it was like seeing a ghost. I recall the sorrow I felt when I finally found his grave, and it is as important to remember him on the 11th too.
 
There will be a parade and wreath laying in Southampton tomorrow, and I will probably be lurking in the background somewhere with my camera. 
I just hope that the weather plays its part too. I may also head across to Southampton Old Cemetery to attend their service, but again that is all weather dependent. 

Cross of Sacrifice, Southampton Old Cemetery.

Irrespective of where I will be though, I will be a part of the brotherhood of military veterans. A select group of people who “served their country”, although in the case of the South Africa it appears as if we really just wasted our time. 
 
My association with South African War Graves Project will also bear fruit as the database will finally be going live on the 11th. It has been a long road to get to this point, and we still have a ways to travel.
 
I know this is a very jumbled collection of words for such an important day, but I can’t quite get a coherent sentence out because there is such a lot of significance to this week of November in my life that often I can only really touch bases here and there. . 
 
In Memory of:
Robert Owen Turner. Died in Egypt WW2.
Matt Slabbert Died in France 1918
Herbert “Bertie” Turner. Deville Wood Survivor
David Leonard Walker. WW2 survivor.
Rfn Van Der Kolf. E Company 11 Commando. 1980
Rfn Peter Hall. B Company 61 Mech Bn Grp
Rfn Lionel van Rooyen. B Company 61 Mech Bn Grp
Cpl Johann Potgieter B Company 61 Mech Bn Grp.
 

 

© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 14/04/2016

Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:51

The Death of a Soldier.

A few weeks ago I bought some wooden Poppy Crosses at the Poppy Shop. The intention being to plant some at the Mendi Memorial in Hollybrook. I haven’t gotten down to physically doing it yet, but it is in my plans. However, events from last week overtook my plans following the tragic murder of a young soldier in London. Like most ex-servicemen I was shocked, and frankly read some of the reports with horror at the sheer brutality of the perpetrators. I was also amazed to read about the 3 Women who stood up and showed their mettle. Somewhere a debt is owned to them. 
 
But out of this horror many things have happened, and the public outpouring of grief has been widespread. Tributes are being laid at war memorials all over the UK, and many people are suddenly realising what being a soldier is about. I won’t comment on the politics involved, and I wont condemn anybody. 
 
I did not have any flowers, but took one of those poppy crosses up to the Cenotaph in Southampton.  Along the way I stopped and picked some flowers from the local park (don’t tell anybody) and laid them down for Lee Rigby. A soldier, who has paid the price for being a soldier. Who now stands amongst the ranks of those who do not grow old, as we grow old. 

I expect the repercussions will still happen, the final page on this incident has not been written, if anything it is just a small introduction. Sadly, another entry has been made in the Roll of Honour, and another life has been lost. 

Stand at ease Drummer Lee Rigby, your duty has been done.
 
© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 08/04/2016
Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:03
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