At this year’s Remembrance Service at Oundle’s war memorial, the first wreath was laid by Ralph Carter, 93, a Burma Star veteran who worked on the Burma Railway as a prisoner of war in the Second World War. This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War, giving special significance to November’s Remembrance Services.
Between 1914-1918, 16 million were killed and 20 million wounded, ranking WWI amongst the deadliest conflicts in human history. In Oundle alone, taking into account the young men at Oundle School and Laxton Grammar School, as well as the men commemorated on the town’s war memorial, over 300 men who had lived in or had links to Oundle, died during the war.
We must remember that these men, many of whom were not even twenty years old, were normal people like you and me. They were not always heroes, just hopeful young men who came from the very same streets where we live today, determined to do the right thing.
We must remember that they had their futures cruelly and brutally torn from them; that they experienced first-hand the horrors of a war that we can only struggle to imagine.
As well as honouring the soldiers who died or were injured as a result of war, Remembrance Day is also an opportunity to reflect on the many civilians who were affected by war; the families who lost their homes; the mothers and fathers who buried their sons.
War is something no man or woman should ever have to witness. No one should have to experience ‘the hell where youth and laughter go’ (Sassoon). WWI was supposed to be ‘the war to end all wars,’ a war fought for peace.
Yet, after countless other conflicts across the globe have been fought during the last century, even now, war is still ravaging communities and displacing
When we honour the memory of the men who died, we must also learn from the past, ‘lest we forget’. History has a terrible habit of repeating itself.
By Thomas Bailey