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Lest We Forget!

Sunday 11th November 2018

Sunday will mark 100 years since the end of the first world war.   A war that lasted four long years and killed over 37 million people world wide.

Soldiers had be at least 18 years old to join the army, and 19 before they could be sent abroad to fight, but lots of younger teenagers tried to ‘join up’ too. They wanted to be treated like men and thought war would be exciting.  They lied about their age, hoping the recruitment officer would believe them and often they succeeded.  the youngest being 12 years old.

Over one million volunteers were recruited into “Kitchener’s Army”  by the end of 1914, but unbelievably that wasn’t enough.

During that time the delivery of post was vital. Firstly, receiving well wishes and gifts from home was one of the few comforts a soldier had on the Western Front. The majority of them spent more time fighting boredom than they did the enemy at times, and writing was one of the few hobbies available to them. For some, it was a welcome distraction from the horrors of the trenches.  Everything that soldiers sent back was subject to censorship. The British Army claimed this was to prevent the enemy finding out secret information, but in fact it was to prevent bad news from reaching home. Letters from serving soldiers had a powerful role, not just in keeping families informed of the well-being of their loved ones.  They also helped to sustain popular support for the war across the home front.  Astonishingly, it only took two days for a letter from Britain to reach the soldiers in France. The journey began at a purpose-built sorting depot in Regent’s Park before being shipped to the trenches. By the end of the war, two billion letters and 114 million parcels had had been delivered.

100 years on and as a nation we still salute those who served with a 2 minute silence.  While the British and German governments are issuing a unique joint appeal to communities across the world to ring their church, military and other bells in unison on Armistice Day to mark the anniversary.

Lastly lets remember those unsung hero’s and heroins, the Animals of War.  Horses, Mules, Donkeys, Dogs Pigeons to name but a few where all used to help in the battle fields,  having no understand what was happening or why they where there! Over 8 million died.

In honour of all those that died humans and animals alike i will leave you with the poem “In Flanders Fields” By the late John Mccrea

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.
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