Remembrance Sunday; the past is not another country

Grave of 2Lt SP Tozer

Grave of 2Lt SP Tozer, killed October 8th 1918

For today’s post I asked my parents if they could send me a photo I remembered. It had belonged to my great-uncle Tom, and it must be the grave of one of his friends in the Devon Regiment. They also sent me these two of him with comrades in the amputee ward of a military hospital, Tom is on the right,

Uncle Tom and comrades in hospital

and convalescing later with a friend, looking more characteristically upbeat. I thought of him the other day when another equally upbeat guy with a metal leg passed me with his mates when I was walking the dog. A hundred years didn’t seem so long ago.

Uncle Tom and friend convalescing

Tom was lucky only to lose a leg in 1918. Zak’s Grandfather, Alexander Innes died in the sinking of HMS Hood in 1941. Zak’s great-grandfather Alexander Innes was killed in France in 1916.

InnesA

Able Seaman Alexander Innes (1916 – 1941)

Zak was wondering how he would go about finding a photograph of his great-grandfather. I had a similar conversation with Dad yesterday. We have no photograph of his Grandfather, James Mulraine, who was a stretcher-bearer on the Western Front. But I am sure they will be in their friends’ photos somewhere.

James Mulraine was wounded by shrapnel. He survived the war, but he never readjusted to civilian life. Like Tom losing a leg, this happens to servicemen now just as it did then. Later this morning Zak and I are going to see the Royal Choral Society’s performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall. The performance has been organised by the Lady R Foundation to raise money for Veterans’ Aid, a charity that provides support for veterans today who might experience the same difficulties in readjusting to life after their service.

The traditional respect for Remembrance Day is to say We Remember Them. Today perhaps more than ever we appreciate them.

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