REMEMBRANCE

A poignant Remembrance Day service at St Mary’s Lidgate today  with members of the seven parishes in the Bansfield Benefice joining together to mark this special day.

All the wreathes were taken out to the Lidgate War Memorial for the exhortation, laying of their wreathes, reading of names and then each parish took their wreath back to their village for their own ceremony.

I can never hear the words from the Kohima Memorial …

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,

For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.

… without thinking of my beloved dad.

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The Kohima Epitaph is dedicated to the memory of the 10,000 Allied soldiers who died fighting the Battle of Kohima in the summer of 1944.

Dad fought through that battle, won the Military Cross, and left many friends behind. He rarely spoke about it but it clearly haunted him. When he wrote his memoirs at the age of 80 he described his childhood, schooling, early days at work with Fisons, joining the army, going out to India, jungle training –  all in the past tense. But when he got to Kohima suddenly the prose was in the present tense. He was still living it.

It is all too easy for us who have been lucky never to have fought or experience war to fail to undertsand the trauma. I remember as a child dad snapping angrily on our way home from a Remembrance Service when a pious priest had spoken at length about sacrifice – none of my friends wanted to die, said dad.

Both my granddads served and survived World War 1 but each was damaged by it. Grandad Macnaughton was a doctor and my mother said he told her how he struggled to come to terms with saving  the lives of  wounded soldiers, patching them up in the certain knowledge that if they went back into the trenches they would surely die. Grandad Thom was blown up and left shellshocked. Dad told us as a little boy being horrified walking down Princes Street, Edinburgh, sometime in the early 1920s, when the one o’clock gun went off and his father threw himself on the pavement gibbering and shaking

At the end of today’s service we were each given facsimiles of the pocket Gospel of St John handed out to soldiers in World War 1 – something I will treasure.