Friday, November 23, 2018

CT draft

Have not been on my blog for a while. Technical problems. Actually it was me who was the problem. Anyway James has fixed it. This was the last column I wrote for the local newspaper. It’s about the centenary of the Armistice, which seems years go. All this Brexit uncertainty drives every other issue into the shadows. Anyway, here’s the article. 

As we approach the centenary of Armistice Day, I reflect that my generation has been blessed with good fortune. I write this from a personal perspective, but it applies to all of the generation into which I was born.  I was a war baby, conceived when Britain was at war with Germany, and born at Welshpool Hospital just before atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which effectively ended hostilities. Soon afterwards, the Second World War, which had wrought utter devastation and cruelty on an epic scale was declared over.  I was just a one year old when the tyrants, Mussolini and Hitler perished. I was just one when the world discovered the horrors visited on innocent Jews in the Holocaust. It’s hard to believe such crimes against humanity actually happened in my lifetime. 

But such appalling events did happen and we British have not been involved in such horrors since. Yes there have been wars and sadly they will continue. We must not forget the awfulness, because we do not want to see the like again. There’s been a Spanish Civil War, a war in Vietnam, the wars in Iraq. Today there’s the awfulness of Syria, Afghanistan and the Yemen. But there has been nothing like the devastation of the two World Wars centred on Europe. When millions of mothers and fathers saw their sons leaving for unknown battlefields. When they dreaded opening the door to a uniformed man bringing them the news that their son (usually but sometimes daughters too) had been killed in action. How did they all recover? Some didn’t of course. We have four children and five grandchildren. It’s just not possible to bring such scenarios to front of mind. 

Over the next few days, many of us will be joining in acts and services of remembrance. Last Saturday I joined the British Legion and cadets as they sold poppies in Newtown, raising money to help those injured in warfare. Today I visited the new statue of the First World War poet, Wilfred Owen at Oswestry. On Friday I look forward to the official opening of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Garden in Machynlleth and on Sunday I will join the Parade and Church Service in Welshpool. There will be many other commemorations and much remembrance across our County.  And there will be hundreds, maybe thousands of Montgomeryshire people turning out to acknowledge the commitment and sacrifice of our young people who have joined the armed forces.

Over recent years, I’ve joined the parade at Welshpool and Newtown on alternate years. This year, on Sunday I will be at Welshpool, and at the service at St Mary’s Church. Many old friends will be there. I do hope Ted Jones and Jack Ellis are well enough to be with us. Both are confined to a wheelchair and elderly. Ted is almost 99 years old now.

One old friend who will not be with us is John Gwilt, a long standing political opponent and one of the nicest men I ever met. The word, Welshpool was printed on his heart. John died recently. I hope I can attend his funeral. I will forever associate him reciting the Kohima Epitaph before the Last Post:
“When you go home, Tell them of us and say, For your tomorrows, We gave our today” 

And the Exhortation after the Last Post
“They shall not grow old, As we that are left grow old, Age shall not weary them, Nor the years condemn, At the going down of the sun, And in the morning, We will remember them.”

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