On Remembrance Sunday the Mayor of Bridgwater Cllr Tony Heywood placed 2 wreaths on the town’s cenotaph. One from himself as mayor and one on behalf of the people of the town. He was joined by just 5 other people. The MP, Ian Lidell-Grainger, the Chairman of Sedgemoor District Council Cllr Peter Clayton and Klaus Galeitzke Chairman of the Royal British Legion, Bridgwater Branch. Cllr Brian Smedley Leader of the Town Council filmed the event and the Police arrived 5 minutes later. The event was held at 0830 and everyone was 2 metres apart in accordance with Covid regulations. 6 people were present. Two minutes silence was observed, started and finished by Klaus Galeitzke who said “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.” On Armistice Day (Wednesday 11th November) the Mayor was again in attendance but with civic leaders taking a lower profile as the Royal British Legion honoured the dead with banners, bugles and poetry. About 60 people were in attendance
What are we Remembering?
The November days of Remembrance have been commemorated since the end of the First World War (1914-1918) , in which 9.7 million military personnel died plus some 10 million civilians, the first event being 11th November 1919 at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month ‘when the guns fell silent’.
But, they never did.
In The Second World War (1939-1945) the figure was 85 million.
So what exactly are we remembering?
We asked 2 prominent councillors.
‘Lost friends, partners and relatives’
Cllr Brian Smedley (Labour Westover) says “I’m sure everyone commemorates this day in their own way and on their own terms. Different thoughts will go through different peoples minds during the act of Remembrance. Those of us with family members in the forces now and throughout history will surely have them at the forefront. This year, during lock down, I had time to research a lot more of my family history and discovered that my Great Uncle Walter Cardiss had been killed at the battle of the Admin Box in Burma. Walter had been part of a vaudeville cabaret troupe in Leeds with his brothers before the war and all joined up to fight Fascism. In February 1944 he was with the West Yorks Regiment facing a Japanese infantry attack which had broken through the British and Indian lines and had reached into the heart of the administration sector, hence the name of the battle, destroying hospital and office units. The fighting was fierce and hand to hand and the line held shoulder to shoulder. And did hold. I know Walter was killed by a bayonet to the throat. I’m sure he’d have preferred to have been singing at the City Varieties in Leeds instead of fighting for his life in Burma. But sometimes, you can’t have one without the other. So that’s what I thought about this time. One small story like the millions of similar stories shared by people across the world who find themselves in that situation and who also lost friends, partners and relatives.”
Cllr Glen Burrows (Labour, Eastover) says “It is important to remember and honour the military victims of war, as we do on Remembrance Sunday, when the British Legion’s red poppies symbolise the sacrifice of so many British military lives. In 2019, the Legion agreed to include British civilians in this act of remembrance. But we should also include victims of wars throughout the world – including those that are still being fought. Peace memorials are more often described as “war memorials” ! In 1933, the Co-operative Women’s Guild introduced the white poppy to re-inforce the message of “never again”, which was the original message of Remembrance, and this is still worn by many today. We should re-dedicate ourselves to the aim of “never again” and finding peaceful solutions to international conflict. We must challenge attempts to celebrate and glorify war. This is the best way to honour the victims of war. “