2014 has been a momentous year for events to remember the start of the First World War, I have heard people voice their concerns that it has been ‘over done’ – not something that I would agree with, and I can’t imagine how you could over do something to remember something quite so awful…
I had hoped to get over to France this year to visit some of the WW1 sites, we did it as a family a few years ago (2007), it would have been good to do some of the cemeteries and sites that we missed first time around – sadly we didn’t manage it this year, but we have seen some of the amazing events taking place in the UK;
The most impressive of these has been the poppies at the Tower of London, I saw these a month or so a go, and at that time they were probably three-quarters complete and already very impressive. If you have the chance to see them before Remembrance Day I would strongly recommend it – it is quite something.
However the thing that has made the greatest impression upon me this year has been the wooden crosses at Salisbury Cathedral – they were actual grave markers put up during the battles and then at the end of the war brought back by grieving relatives. They represent a tangible link to 100 years ago and consequently are ‘very real’. The photo I took (using a nifty filter on my new camera) is I think with the single red poppy quite powerful…..
Yesterday saw the official ‘unveiling’ of the Bomber Command memorial in London. This is to remember the 55,000+ airmen who lost their lives serving their country. These were not the spitfire and hurricane pilots who were vaunted as our saviours after the war (the few who took on the might of the Luftwaffe). No these were the men who took the war to Europe in their Lancasters, Wellingtons and the like. The death and mayhem they caused is still a subject that causes controversy, however we were at war and I always find it somewhat bizarre when we grade acts and behaviour in war-time situations.
The bottom line is that these men were doing what they were told – no more no less – so they should not have be judged and ‘hidden away’ for over 60 years. The memorial has come too late for the majority who fought to see. That is very sad.
I have always had a ‘soft spot’ for the aircraft of the second world war period, and in particular the Lancaster. My late father was trained to fly as part of the Imperial Program which trained pilots in America and Canada. He returned to the UK to be trained on Lancs as a flight engineer towards the end of the war (there was a shortage of Engineers). He was put with a crew just as hostilities in Europe finished – consequently he never saw action, but it always makes me think of what might have been (or not in my case!)
So I do hope that the memorial becomes a regular addition to the activities on remembrance day, they really do deserve it!
Today we see one of those dates that is very pleasing to anyone who likes numbers – it is the 11th day of the 11th month of the eleventh year of the decade – 11.11.11. – it’s a palindrome, it appears the same whichever way it is written and only occurs once every 100 years.
If you want to be particularly ‘geeky’ you can add to this number line by adding eleven minutes past eleven on the eleventh of the eleventh 2011 – you get the idea!
However, I hope that this special date will help people remember that 11.11 has been a very special date since 1918 and is remembrance day, the time at which we have a two minute silence to remember the fallen of all conflicts. The FIFA episode this week has given me some added belief in the British support for rememberance day which has to be a good thing.
The question is – will you, or your place of work, stop for a two-minute silence?
I will put my hand up now to confirm that I am not a fan of football as it is now – the majority of footballers are in my opinion over paid ‘prima donnas’ who don’t have the correct attitude for their roles.
Strong words, but I believe that the ‘beautiful game’ as some of my colleagues try to make me believe it is, has completely lost touch with the real man in the street. It is frighteningly expensive to take a family to a match – even in the lower leagues, the behaviour and language in the stands leaves a lot to be desired, and the players are an appalling example in many cases for the kids of today.
And today, just to add insult to injury FIFA (apparently ‘the wise men of football’) have decreed that the England team cannot wear poppies in their next match to show respect for the fallen in the two world wars and subsequent conflicts.
A spokesman for Fifa said:
“Fifa fully acknowledges the significance of the Poppy Appeal and the ways in which it helps commemorate Remembrance Day on 11 November each year.
“As a multinational organisation comprising over 50 different nationalities, the significance of this date will also be observed by many of its employees, who will remember family members too.
“Fifa’s regulations regarding players’ equipment are that they should not carry any political, religious or commercial messages.
“Fifa has 208 Member Associations and the same regulations are applied globally, and uniformly, in the event of similar requests by other nations to commemorate historical events.”
If I am honest – I have total contempt for that decision – but it doesn’t surprise me if you look at the recent ‘form’ for FIFA.
Hopefully they will reverse the decision – or England will refuse to play (fat chance I know). If not it is yet another nail in the coffin of ‘the once beautiful game’.
This week is half term, so like most parents I am off and trying to find ‘useful’ things to do with the family. One such act was a trip to London to visit certain museums for the benefit of the younger members of the family. The V&A was one choice for access to their amazing library of drawings and paintings for my stepdaughter’s A level work. This is a fantastic resource and access is free (but no white gloves are required which must have been disappointing!)
The V&A is one our great British resources – a greatly underestimated place. I also visited with my son the Imperial War museum – to help with GCSE History studies (and because it’s a great place). The sections on the First World War and Second World War are absolutely superb – there is an incredible amount of information and it is put over in an interesting and engaging way for all ages. The trench experience is well done and the top floor gallery showing winners of the VC is a must to visit.
So, two excellent museums.
We did have some time to spare in the afternoon however, and decided to look at the museum of London which is situated near St Paul’s in the city. We went with an open mind, London is a city with a lot of history so it could be a great museum.
Frankly it isn’t, it is dry and boring in its layout and presentation. A real lost opportunity – but at least it was free!