WMC: October 2018
From the Manse....
These past four years we have been remembering and commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the events of the Great War. From it's beginning in 1914, to the places and battles that have been seared on our minds and collective memories: the Somme, Verdun, Passchendaele and Ypres to name but a few.
This month, the eleventh of the year, on the eleventh day we will remember how the guns finally fell silent. Yet even on that last day, between 4.20am, when the last soldiers went 'over the top' and the hostilities ceasing, there were 10,944 casualties and 2,738 deaths on the Western Front. At eleven in the morning, the First World War ended and it was all over.
The war to end all wars had at long last finished.
There are no longer now any living service personnel who served and fought during that war. The last living veteran was Florence Green, who served in the Allied armed forces, and who died on 4th February 2012, aged 110. The last combat veteran was Claude Choules who served in the British Royal Navy (and later the Royal Australian Navy) who died on 5th May 2011, aged 110. The last veteran who served in the trenches was Harry Patch (British Army) who died on 25th July 2009, aged 111
Behind each name that is inscribed on a cenotaph, monument, cross, cairn or plaque there is a person, there is a family and there is a story.
At the beginning of the 1930 film version of Erich Maria Remarque's moving and poignant anti-war novel "All Quiet on the Western Front", it states;
"This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war...."
For those who returned home, those who came back from the trenches and the weariness of war could never be the same again.
So on this one hundredth anniversary as we stand and keep silent for two minutes, as we stand and recall the events of the past, and as we remember those from our own families whose names live on, we will honour them and their sacrifice.
We will remember them.
We will not forget.
With love and God Bless,
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Wantage Methodist Chapel
Wantage Methodist Chapel