The Guns Fell Silent…

90 years ago today at 11.00. The Great War, the War to End All Wars was over. Except it wasn’t. World War 2, the Cold War, Vietnam, The Falklands, The Gulf Wars 1 & 2, Iraq and Afghanistan subsequently happened. The list is much much longer and I’ve picked the most prominent ones from my perspective.

From where I sit now in my warm and safe home, these wars seem to have little impact on me.

BUT, just looking at the Great War, my Great Grandfather, William Wood, was hit by a shell and killed on 28th March 1918, one day before my Grandpa’s 5th birthday. So he never knew his father and his brother was less than one year old when he was killed. My Dad and Uncle never knew their Grandfather and they all missed out on the influence he would have had on them.

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William Wood is on the back row on the left right.

We think this photo was taken while he was training with the Royal Engineers although he was later transferred to, and served with, the Durham Light Infantry.

Then there are the 12 members of my Scout Troop who didn’t survive the First War and the 1 member who didn’t survive the Second War. One of the Troop’s Leaders won the Military Cross for bravery (see the memorial here). What effect would this extremely brave Priest have had on the boys of the Troop? Would the others have played any other part in the life of the Troop? We will never know.

To my knowledge, I only ever met one Great War veteran. Harry Goodwin, lived next door to my Grandparents. My main memory of him was that he was great at gardening and was somewhat deaf. He showed me how to take a cutting form a rose bush and grow a new rose bush from it. The only reason I know he had served in the First World War was that for some reason he was telling me and my Grandma about the severe dysentery he suffered from while he was serving in the trenches. Quite why he decided to share this information with us is now completely beyond me! Still I remember he served.

The main thing is to remember and to hope for peace. Harry Patch, the last British Tommy to have served in the trenches, said when he met Charles Kuentz, a German WW1 soldier, ‘”I was a bit doubtful before meeting a German soldier. Herr Kuentz is a very nice gentleman however. He is all for a united Europe and peace – and so am I”.

Today remember those who were killed in the World Wars and subsequent and current wars. It doesn’t matter whether you approve of those conflicts, if they are historical or current, the people who served in the Forces of the UK or of our Allies and friends gave their lives in the service of their countries.

But as well as remembering those who died, remember those who have been injured and the families of those who did not come home.

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

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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