In Flanders Fields

One hundred years ago in Sunday the guns fell silent.

They say there is hardly a family in Britain, France or Germany which did not have at least one casualty of war, be it a close relative or  more distant one. My grandfather lost a dearly loved brother at Arras and my grandmother lost her eldest brother in The Somme. Neither of them has a known grave, the mud took them and they are what Brooke called “some part of a foreign field”

But they are not forgotten, every year I plant my poppy crosses in the turf at our local memorial and I write their names on each back of each one…Sidney Raymond Harris and John Henry Lester.

How long will they be remembered?

I don’t know, it is not as if their names will be fresh remembered to the ending of the world, to paraphrase Shakespeare, but as long as I live and my children and maybe my grandchildren, I like to think that every 11th November, someone who shares their lost genes will plant a little cross with a red poppy in their name.

Was their sacrifice worth it? Did it solve anything? Who knows, it is probably still to soon to say, but when their country thought it would and asked them to go and be soldiers, they went. If we recognise anything it should be that sense of duty and we should be grateful to them and all the others who went with them.

 

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3 thoughts on “In Flanders Fields

  1. A very touching post. If they are not remembered individually, they will be remembered as part of the many that answered their country’s call. I hope your family continues, and goes on remembering them.
    It’s good to remind people that those little black-and-white figures shown going ‘over the top’ in the old newsreels were actual young men, from actual families.
    It’s a sign of how little that war changed anything, though, that a generation later, those same countries send the descendants of the survivors back to the same battlefields. And that the same sense of duty led those descendants to go..

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  2. You are right, they should all be remembered, each and every one, and in all conflicts. You might remember we found and visited Pete’s grandfather’s grave in Belgium, the first time anyone in the family had been there. At least he has a grave, unlike many poor lads. Sadly, he wasn’t the only one in our families: there would later be more, both servicemen and civilians, in WWII. History repeating itself.

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