Look Forward, Feel Free, Rejoice in Life, Cherish the Children, Guard My Memory
The title of this post is taken from a letter written by Winston Churchill in July 1915 and addressed to his wife. He sealed the letter in an envelope and marked it ‘To be sent to Mrs Churchill in the event of my death’.
This year, London is full of poppies. The moat at the Tower of London is literally FULL of poppies. Every day I see a different photo posted on Facebook by a different friend – of the London poppies. The pictures show not only the dazzling red display but also the crowds flocking to see it. It’s amazing how many people this installation has touched. This year, the WW1 centenary year, everybody is Remembering. This is a wonderful thing. There is noone left alive who remembers, so it is up to us.
I went to visit the poppies at the Tower in August. The installation was in progress and the crowds were less. It was peaceful. A good, peaceful day – 100 years later.
All over the world, people will be remembering The Great War this week, as well as every war that has been fought, and all the people who have given their lives to defend their country, on behalf of the people. The reasons for war are often ridiculous but this week we remember the fallen, and look to a brighter future, in which war cemeteries are not necessary.
Bayeux War Cemetery, July 2014
War Memorial, Penge, London October 2014
Below is an excerpt from a letter published in Love Letters of The Great War, edited by Mandy Kirkby and published 2014.
Rifleman Bert Bailey to Lucille Bailey
Wednesday 27 October 1915
My Darling Wife,
Another night has passed and another morning come and I am still in the trenches and in good health. Although all day and night on Monday it rained steadily yet Tuesday (yesterday) morning broke fair and fine and we had a nice day except that underneath everything was mud and slosh. We were employed all the morning and afternoon in putting down boards along the trenches and have greatly improved it for walking. As I stopped to rest awhile I could not help being struck by the exceptional beauty of the moon as the clouds kept flitting past. The moon was nearly full, partially obscured by the thin fleecy clouds but these soon passed by and after a spell of clear shining the great black billows slowly closed in until it could only be seen shining dimly through a great rift in the clouds, then the whole closed up. The sky at that spot was absolutely black, but there was no rain, and although the great black ugly side was turned to me I knew the other side must be shimmering with the pure white light. Let us hope that this time of our lives is like that, a great dark cloud which passes away, so that afterwards the light is brighter than before.
(Bert and Lucille had married on 5 June 1915, during Bert’s leave. Bert was killed a few hours after writing this letter.)
Photographs by Christina Owen.