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Posted by: kentish ( )
Date: November 07, 2019 11:22AM

Today and for the next few days I proudly wear the commemorative poppy pin issued by the Royal British Legion for Private George Thomas Chapman of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment killed at the Somme in September 1916.

This is a time of the year when I miss my home country the most. I am proud of the way the UK remembers its war dead in the days leading to and around Remembrance Day and the national two minute silence. I was a very young child during the London blitz of WW2 and while I lack the day to day memory of events there are sights and sounds that remain with me to this day. For instance. recordings of air raid sirens still cause some stress. I look forward to You Tube screenings of the annual remembrance program from the Royal Albert Hall and admit to shedding a tear when more than a million red poppies are dropped in the silence on those assembled there and the book carrying the names of every soldier killed since the Great War. On Sunday the national war memorial on Whitehall in central London will be the focus of a moving tribute, a scene that will be repeated at hundreds of local memorials through out the UK.

I have stood on Omaha Beach and at the Menin Gate in Ypres for the nightly commemoration of the 50,000 named there of whom no trace was ever found and count myself fortunate that I have nev er had to face the things they faced. To all who served, to those who perhaps mourn for a lost love one, my thanks for the life I live because of you and them.

A great tribute is the group Amore singing a wonderful version of Elgar's Nimrod.

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: November 10, 2019 12:14PM

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.

—In Flanders Fields—
—John McCrae—

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Posted by: kentish ( )
Date: November 11, 2019 01:02PM

WW1 produced some amazing literature in its aftermath and Canadian John McCrae's poem perhaps embodies the overall horror. My own favorite is Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est which reads in part:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shot. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue, deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Fie-Nines that dropped 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 see, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

I think Owen wrote with some cynicism borne of experience in the horror of war. The translation of the latin title is: How sweet and fitting (glorious) it is to die for one's country. Owen died on November 4, 1918, just days before the armistice

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: November 11, 2019 01:59PM

That Owen poem is my favourite, too. I often post it at this time. But you were talking about poppies, so...

The problem with the McCrae poem is the propagandistic sentiment in the last stanza. Far better is the ending to Owen’s poem:

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

That is the actual sentiment that today’s poppy stands in for.


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Posted by: looking in ( )
Date: November 11, 2019 10:46AM

Thinking today of my two great uncles who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during WW1. One came home and lived to be a very old man, while the other died in battle August 31, 1918.

Remembrance Day in Canada, as in Britain, is widely marked. Ceremonies are held all over the country, from small town Legion Halls to the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Like Kentish, I've been proud to wear my poppy this week.

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Posted by: kentish ( )
Date: November 11, 2019 12:37PM

lookingin: As a child in London I recall seeing many Canadian servicemen and I regret that so often when talk of D-Day comes up the fact of a Canadian beach on that day tends to be skimmed over. There were lots of Aussies about, too, with their bush hats tied up on one side. Heroes all. Perhaps one of the best sights to candy deprived kids at that time was a GI coming down the street because we knew he likely had something in his pocket that we craved. Gum. The friendly ones, perhaps someone here's grandfather would set us up in a circle and toss several sticks into the air for our scrum to sort out.

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Posted by: looking in ( )
Date: November 11, 2019 03:51PM

Kentish, that's a sweet memory. Thanks for sharing it!

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: November 11, 2019 08:54PM

"Where are you going, Young Fellow My Lad,
On this glittering morn of May?"
"I'm going to join the Colours, Dad;
They're looking for men, they say."
"But you're only a boy, Young Fellow My Lad;
You aren't obliged to go."
"I'm seventeen and a quarter, Dad,
And ever so strong, you know."

* * * *

"So you're off to France, Young Fellow My Lad,
And you're looking so fit and bright."
"I'm terribly sorry to leave you, Dad,
But I feel that I'm doing right."
"God bless you and keep you, Young Fellow My Lad,
You're all of my life, you know."
"Don't worry. I'll soon be back, dear Dad,
And I'm awfully proud to go."

* * * *

"Why don't you write, Young Fellow My Lad?
I watch for the post each day;
And I miss you so, and I'm awfully sad,
And it's months since you went away.
And I've had the fire in the parlour lit,
And I'm keeping it burning bright
Till my boy comes home; and here I sit
Into the quiet night.

* * * *

"What is the matter, Young Fellow My Lad?
No letter again to-day.
Why did the postman look so sad,
And sigh as he turned away?
I hear them tell that we've gained new ground,
But a terrible price we've paid:
God grant, my boy, that you're safe and sound;
But oh I'm afraid, afraid."

* * * *

"They've told me the truth, Young Fellow My Lad:
You'll never come back again:
(Oh God! the dreams and the dreams I've had,
and the hopes I've nursed in vain!)
For you passed in the night, Young Fellow My Lad,
And you proved in the cruel test
Of the screaming shell and the battle hell
That my boy was one of the best.
"So you'll live, you'll live, Young Fellow My Lad,
In the gleam of the evening star,
In the wood-note wild and the laugh of the child,
In all sweet things that are.
And you'll never die, my wonderful boy,
While life is noble and true;
For all our beauty and hope and joy
We will owe to our lads like you."

by Robert William Service

Waltzing Matilda by Eric Bogle:

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 11/11/2019 09:26PM by Nightingale.

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