Saturday, October 24, 2009

November - a time the Remember

Perhaps the defining moment of this decade, the first of the new millennium, happened very early, on the September 11th 2001. The Terrorist attacks in America have shaped the whole decade with the resulting global “War on Terror”. The cost has been stark:
Afghanistan
865 Americans, 11 Australians, one Belgian, 219 Britons, 131 Canadians, three Czech, 25 Danes, 21 Dutch, six Estonians, one Finn, 35 French, 30 Germans, two Hungarians, 20 Italians, three Latvian, one Lithuanian, four Norwegians, 13 Poles, two Portuguese, 11 Romanians, one South Korean, 26 Spaniards, two Swedes and two Turks.

IRAQ
4,352 Americans, two Australians, one Azerbaijani, 179 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, one Czech, seven Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Fijian, five Georgians, one Hungarian, 33 Italians, one Kazakh, three Latvians, 22 Poles, three Romanians, five Salvadoran, four Slovaks, one South Korean, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians

This year alone, at the time of writing, 84 service personnel have died. What should we do? How can we respond? There is sadness, there is despair, there has been heroism, there is hope. But what can we do?

During November we have Remembrance Sunday, this year by the cenotaph in Wadworth, there will be a sea of crosses, to represent these deaths this year and perhaps to bring home the human cost of the “War on Terror”. I make no judgement on the rights and wrongs on why we are where we are but we I feel the need to recognise the bravery of our forces.

I remember reading when the death toll for Afghanistan that reached 217, those 217 soldiers is exactly the number of aircrew in 31 Lancaster or Halifax bombers of WWII which could be lost in just one night in a raid over a heavily defended target. RAF bomber aircrew knew that the odds of surviving a tour were less than 30% but they always held on to the belief it would not be their aircraft that was lost.

In WWI on a quiet day on the Western Front, British casualties were around the 2,000-mark each day.
That does not diminish anyone’s death or sacrifice in the current conflict, indeed the whole point of Remembrance Sunday is to remember everyone that has died in armed conflict and not to forget.

Therefore this year I am pleased we are correcting a mistake and rectifying an omission in our services. When I came just over two years ago, I was mystified that at my first Remembrance Sunday there was no roll of honour at Loversall. I didn’t read any name and no one asked any questions as to why I didn’t read any names. Then during the big clean up at Loversall before Easter in 2008 I found a Roll of Honour, weeks later, a woman approached me while I was in church to point out that that the wrong brother was listed as dead on the roll of honour. During storage the Roll of Honour had also become a bit “worse for wear”

Now Russell, our reader in training, has an interest in all things historical, and with a bit of research on his part, we now have identified the right brother that was killed. Russell has also identified where and when the soldiers died and were they now rest.

So for this Remembrance Sunday we have produced a revised roll of honour with more details and will be putting it in the Memorial book bought in Remembrance of Garth and Nan Collin. I will be used at the 9:30 service AT ST KATHERINES ON THE 8TH NOVEMBER. SERVICE AT THE CENOTAPH IN WADWORTH WILL START AT 10:55.