Remembrance Day: On The Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month We Will Remember Those Who Fought and Those Who Died for Their Country

Remembrance Day picture Commemorative art from Jacqueline Hurley The War Poppy Collection
Remembrance Day picture
Commemorative art from Jacqueline Hurley The War Poppy Collection

On Remembrance Day, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, we shall remember those who fought and those who died during The Great War, The World War, World War one, the war that was to end all wars, so they said.

 Who could have imagined there would be a replay, a second World war.

I'll go no further with this as a third would not only be the war to end all wars, it would be the war to end the World.

World War One was years in the making but came to a head with the July Crisis 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia of Austria, were assassinated in Sarajevo.

On the fourth of August 1914 Great Britain declared war on Germany.

The war to end all wars, which many thought would be over by Christmas, took four years and left millions dead, both soldiers and civilians.

A lost generation.

British soldier with fixed bayonet, First World War, 1914-1918.
British soldier with fixed bayonet, First World War, 1914-1918.

All who fought were heroes, the ones who never again saw England and the ones who survived and came home, not always in one piece.

Heroes who saved Great Britain and Europe for generations to come.
We shall not forget.

Initially it began with volunteers but, as things became worse, by 1915, conscription had  been introduced.

Lord Kitchener, British Secretary Of State, is still known today from the posters (some say fictional and that they were never printed) beseeching all able bodied young boys and men to join up:

 "Take the king's shilling"

WW2 British army recruiting poster
WW2 British army recruiting poster

With conscription came the conscientious objectors, known as the "Conchies"

Through reading the book by Ottoline Morrell: Life on the Grand Scalemy whole perception of conscientious objectors changed, or should I say " I came to understand  them"?

Ottoline Morrell "Life on the grand scale"
Ottoline Morrell
"Life on the grand scale"

In 1916 Lady Ottoline set up a refuge, a home farm at her country house; Garsington Manor, in Oxfordshire, to prevent objectors from being prosecuted.

They were mainly from the "Bloomsbury set", writers, poets, painters and philosophers.

They included Mark Gertler, painter, Lytton Strachey, writer and Bertrand Russell, philosopher, who was later imprisoned for speaking out against the war.

They were pacifists.

People mostly despised the "Conchies", regarded them as cowards and unpatriotic.

Ladies singled them out by presenting them with a white feather, symbolizing cowardice.

The white feather of cowardice
The white feather of cowardice

Maybe there were some cowards, maybe some were unpatriotic but they did have courage, courage to stand up for their beliefs, courage to be true to themselves.

How things have changed regarding objectors.

Today many people admire them; cheer them for being against going to war for their countries.

How they must have been resented then though; by the soldiers going through hell in the trenches and by the Mother's who had lost their husbands and their Sons.

And they did go through hell in the trenches.

It was trench warfare, I can still remember my history teacher, Mrs Sawyer, a brilliant teacher, by the way, telling us that it was a war of attrition, a wearing down, who would surrender first?

What these brave soldiers went through, we know from the works of the war poets, brave, young, sensitive boys, who with their soulful worlds brought to us, so that we must never forget, the horrific experience of war.

Many didn't make it home.

Wilfred Owens was killed in action just one hour before the armistice was signed.

Wilfred Owen, soldier and poet.
Wilfred Owen, soldier and poet.

Rupert Brooke  died in 1915, of sepsis from an infected mosquito bite, while serving as an officer in the British Royal Navy.

He is buried on the Greek Island of Skyros in the Aegean.

Rupert Brooke WWI poet and soldier 1887 - 1915.
Rupert Brooke WWI poet and soldier 1887 - 1915. 

I do like war poems, especially Rupert Brooke and A.E.Houseman.

Houseman, not really known for World War One poems, has some real tear jerkers!

 "A Shropshire Lad" is full of soldiers who will never see England again, never see the cows come home from the fields for milking in the evenings, and never again sit down for a family meal.

I can work myself up into a thorough melancholy mess by reading the war poets!

A Shropshire Lad
A Shropshire Lad

A Shropshire Lad (Dover Thrift Editions)A Shropshire Lad (Dover Thrift Editions)

A little more is known to me about life as a soldier in World War One, through the first letter that my Grandfather wrote to my Grandmother, after leaving the quiet village of  Farsley, for who knows what.

My Grandfather, James Langford Taylor of Farsley, Yorkshire, was engaged at the time to Lily Gaythorpe of Woodhall Hills Farm, Calverley, Yorkshire.

Lily Gaythorpe
Lily Gaythorpe

Jim and Lily married after the war.

The letter was kindly given to me by my cousin Michael who was greatly amused at the last line of the letter.

Rightly so, I must say!

The original letter is in very faded pencil, it is copied here exactly as it was written by Jim, mistakes and all!

Dear Lily
I arrived here last night and now in a position to have a letter from you which I hope wont be long, did you see in the papers about the Zepplins & battle ships bombarding Norfolk and Suffolk coast.

Well I might tell you that I think my self very lucky that I am living. I went to bed at ¼ past 10 in Easter Monday night and about 12 o clock the Zepps started dropping bombs 2 landed about 20 yards away from the house and very near shook the house down I jumped out of bed and put my clothes on the best I could and went outside.

 Just as I crossed the road the Zepps came right over my head you talk about the noise an engine makes it is awful just the same as about 4 or 5 engines on the line goeing at full speed all at once.

 Well they kept on until 2 o clock then I went back into the house and sat in the room until ¼ to 4 and just got up into my bedroom when I heard a nother report so I came outside again and went on to the seafront and to my surprise I saw the German fleet fireing away as hard as ever they could.

 It was terriable to here it and the buildings for far away was shaking as if they were goeing to come down.

I stood for ¾ of an hour watching them and every time a shell hit in the water it was the same as if the sea was lifting up for miles high first from our ships and then from the Germans, then all of a sudden they turned onto the town and as soon as I saw that the shells was coming inwards I thought that it was time I went.

  I had not gone far when a heard a shell come whistling over and the first shoot sent a fish curring on fire then the second came  and caught a big place by the fish warfe  and took the roof clean off.

 They just missed the air stations, all the seaplanes and land planes was up.

They fetched the Zepp down onto the water but she got up again badly damaged but she did not get so very far away as she fell into the water again and was lost.

The Commanding Officer said that he dropped 4 bombs onto the German flagship it lasted 1 to 1 ½ hours and the next morning it was awful sight down at the air station one machine was full of holes from tail to nose and the pilot was badly wounded in the shoulder and landed his machine with one hand and as soon has he lit he fell unconsus.

 You should have seen inside the machine it was one mass of blood.

They is still one pilot and a machine missing yet and seaplanes.

 They founf 8 floating about and had to towe them in all the people was turned out of the town they went into the country it was awful to see the poor kids and women.

 I Shall never forget the sight when we had the Zepps on the Tuesday night, I went down to Felixstowe on the Wednesday night and to crown all the Zepps came againe and dropped bombs just outside where I was staying.

Well I thought it was hell on hearth and wondered if ever I should get out of it.

 Well it is in the country where I am now so I think I shall be alright for a while now and if all goes well I shall come home for the weekend next week and shall be able to explane all better to you.
 Hoping you and all at home is in the best of health as it leaves me at present.

Tell your dad I nearly shit myself.
                                                   From your loving Jim

Isn't it wonderful?

I'm sure that you all agree about the last line!

Below is an account of the bombing of Lowestoft, also given to me by Michael.

Bombing of Lowestoft 1916
Bombing of Lowestoft 1916

Jim's documents.

James Taylor's documents
James Taylor's documents

Here  is my grandfather, James Langford Taylor.

It's a shame I don't have an earlier photograph of him.

This is March 1950, taken at my parent's wedding.
James Langford Taylor
James Langford Taylor

The war was over on the eleventh of November 1918 at eleven in the morning when the armistice was signed.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

The map of Europe had changed, whole Empires had disappeared:

The German Empire, The Austro Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire : Gone.

Dynasties had disappeared:

The Hohenzollerns, The Habsburghs and the Romanovs: Gone.

People had changed, the war changed them, they said "never again".

We all know, "Never say never"!

Throughout Europe, cenotaphs and monuments were erected in honour of  heroes, the named, and  the nameless, who came to be known as 

" The Unknown Soldier."

Tomb of the unknown soldier Athens Greece
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Athens Greece

Tomb of the unknown soldier Athens Greece
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Athens Greece

The tomb of the unknown soldier in Greece, is located in front of the  Hellenic Parliament buildings, Syntagma Square, Athens.

The inscriptions are taken from "The Funeral Oration of Pericles" by Thucydides, and is
 inlaid with a sculpture of a dying hoplite, an ancient Greek citizen soldier.

All over the land, at 11 am on the eleventh of November, wreaths are being laid, soldiers remembered, a different era remembered.

We must never forget them, the heroes who saved our country.

 Those who fought for us and those who died for us.

Wear your poppy with pride.


Dulce Et Decorum  Est

Wilfred Owens

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! An ecstasy of fumbling

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.

Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

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