United Brethren has retired.

Remembrance Sunday

An age-long tradition in Britain is the wearing of a red poppy on the Sunday closest to the 11th November. On this day we have services to remember those who died in times of war. Wreaths are laid at war memorials on a local and national level. The Queen and Prime Minister pay their respects too. The entire nation observes 2 minutes silence at 11am. It's always a day that makes me proud of my heritage and proud to be British. Both of my grandfathers fought in WWII. One - John F. McLaverty in the Royal Navy serving on active duty from 1939 until 1946 on the Arctic convoys. This is an excerpt about one of the ships he served on:

"On 28 May (1942) convoy QP11 (thirteen ships) left Murmansk for Iceland, escorted by four destroyers, four corvettes, and an anti-submarine trawler. Close escort was provided by the cruiser Edinburgh and two destroyers, Foresight and Forester (my grandfather's ship). On 29 May the Germans made contact with the convoy and Edinburgh was struck by two torpedoes from U456. Three German destroyers sent to intercept the convoy were repeatedly driven off by the convoy escort, but managed to sink one freighter, a straggler. The destroyers then found and attacked the cruiser Edinburgh, which returned fire and severely damaged the Hermann Schoemann, which later sank. During the action the destroyers Forester and Foresight were badly damaged by gunfire, while Edinburgh was again struck by a torpedo from one of the German destroyers, subsequently having to be scuttled by a torpedo from Foresight. The defense of QP11 had proved to be so determined that never again did the German destroyers venture out to attack a convoy on their own, only sailing as escort to larger ships."

He won't talk about his war experiences mostly because he says he saw too many of his friends die. My other grandfather - Ralph S. Smith was an infantryman in the Royal Army and a bagpipe player in the King's Own Scottish Borderers. He was wounded in the leg on the beaches of Dunkirk, rescued by a small fishing boat and then had to retire from active duty. It was a wound that bothered him the rest of his life, until his death in 1983. I was only 7 when he died and didn't have the opportunity to hear about his war experiences either. As a granddaughter and a resident of a free country, I'm grateful for the sacrifices that were made, and hope we can all spare a moment to appreciate the gift that has been given us.

In Flanders Fields
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. (John McCrae, 1872 - 1918)

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Anonymous Anonymous said ... (November 12, 2004 10:47 AM) 

When I think of the father of Marion and I, it is usually to consider them as older men. However, at this time of year I am helped to think of them as they were when willing to risk all for freedom, family and country - young men. It is sobering to consider that since WW2 there has only been one year when a British serviceman has not bee killed in action.

Here dead we lie because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung.
Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;
But young men think it is, and we were young.

- A.E. Houseman 

Posted by John McLaverty


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (November 12, 2004 3:20 PM) 

Thank you so much for your post. It is always sobering to think of the human element of war. We talk about battles that are won or lost as if it was just a game played out by the heads of state. But the stark reality of war is that each individual who is now reperesented in the history books as just a number represents a complete story, filled with family, and hopes and dreams. Especailly as we honor those who gave their life (although sometimes it wasn't on the battle field) to protect the rights and liberties that we now enjoy, it is nice to be able to honor a person, or people particular, rather than a faceless mass. Having been raised by parents whose attitude had to be shaped by the movement of the 60's that they lived through, it is hard for me to imagine the patriatism that filled the men and women who went to war, as well as those who are doing so today. And yet, they signed up, not forced in, because they believed in their country and the fight for liberty. There was a documentary on last night that showed footage of a huge gathering of men (probably about 300) who were marching down the street to go and inlist. It was a little sad, as it always is for me to watch the young boys filled with excitement and to know the stark reality of war that they were going to experience.  

Posted by Allison


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