Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Lest we forget
"The Mourning Caribou" Newfoundland Regiment Memorial, Beaumont-Hamel, France
My grandfather on my mother's side was wounded not far from here during the battle of The Somme in 1916. He was serving with The Rifle Brigade and was hit by a trench mortar round. He survived, but was invalided out, and suffered from wounds that never completely healed until he died in the 1970s.
My other grandfather served as an army chaplain. He died in 1921 - of TB contracted during his army service - when my father was just eight years old.
There are so few survivors of the First World War left. We need to remember their sacrifice and the absurd futility of war. The images of the First World War memorials are not enough. They do not convey the immense size of Thiepval, the Menin Gate, Vimy Ridge or Tyne Cot, or the seemingly endless lists of the fallen who have no known grave. They must be visited to be understood.
And these are only the military casualties: the countless thousands of civilian victims of conflict are - almost always - forgotten.