Saturday, November 10, 2012

WHO WILL YOU REMEMBER … Lest we forget ?… on Remembrance Sunday

For those of you who do not have this particular day in your country, here is some background.
Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day, is actually on the 11th day of the 11th month and the two minute silence that is held, is at 11am.
This was when WW1 ended and  was commemorated for the first time in 1919 as a mark of respect to all that had fallen throughout the Commonwealth. Remembrance Sunday is the second Sunday of November and this year they fall on the same day. Poppies tend to be worn from about the two weeks before …these represent those that have fallen and the idea came from the poem, 'In Flanders Fields'.This flower was adopted as the emblem in 1921 by Field Marshal Douglas Haig.... the money raised through the sales, goes to ex-servicemen that need help in some way or other, through the  British Legion.

When I was a child everything stopped for the two minutes …even cars in the street…and by then we were remembering those who fell in WWII and  all the other conflicts that followed but now sadly it is easy to miss that there is a  silence, as very little seems to halt. On the Sunday it is a different matter as, at all war memorials there will be a gathering,  wreaths and poppies laid and many more try to observe the silence on that day . I would have expected more homage to our dead nowadays rather than less, as so many have been lost since the first Falklands war and - many are still dieing, every day in the conflicts that still rage.

Over the past few years there are those that want to stop this day and the wearing of poppies …it is said they feel it  glorifies war and does not really apply anymore in our multicultural  country. I feel that our country is free to be multicultural because of those who gave their lives and this is not a glorification of war ... it is  a remembrance of those who died…rather like a funeral …but on a grand scale ..and every where at the same time making it more poignant.

A while back I created a LO to remember my mums ‘Love of her Life’….he was lost long before my  father was on the scene but never forgotten by her, so I choose to remember him.

 John McKelvie aged 27 is ‘buried’ in France at Prefailles along with many of his comrades …members of 98th  Squadron. Aparently he has a head stone and he was on the list of those that boarded the Lancastria. This was sent to help with the evacuation of those still traped in France, after the huge evacuation of Operation Dynamo better known as The Dunkirk Evacuation. This rescue  centered around St Nazaire.  I read somewhere that the soldiers were displeased that the airmen were some of the first on board… safe and warm below deck, they must have thought…but when  the attack occured, were probably in the line of one of the direct hits.... with little hope of survival.
Well that is some of what I have discovered …all Mum knew was that his dog tags were washed up at St Nazaire,that  there was a memorial entry to him there and it was assumed he had been on the Lancastria as a fellow serviceman reported to John's family later, that he was seen running towards the ship.

 This is the War Memorial in Methil, Fife ....his home town …where also he is remembered.
It was originally errected to honour those who died in the WWI  and later the WWII names were added  to the sides . I thought it was fitting to show the view from the memorial space too.

 I also discovered recently that he had not been shot down before his evacuation by the fated Lancastria but that the squadron had been stationed in France from about April 1940. It was a volunteer reserve  squadron and remained a training squadron preparing the airmen who were to be  then transferred to other squadrons. They had as yet, never flown on a mission themselves, just trained those who did. As far as I know neither his family or Mum knew the details of his service … all Mum knew was he  was training men and was recently promoted to sergeant … but she thought it was at an air field in England. I also don’t know whether he had served in another squadron and then been transferred to the 98th to be an instructor, as she seemed positive he had served as a rear gunner. I am glad Mum never new any of the other details about the sinking including the fact that the ship sank in 20 mins to the sound of  those on board singing ’Roll out the barrel’ …and …‘There always be an England . Over 6000 were on board … only 2500 survived … and what angers me is that Operation Ariel and the sinking of the Lancastria are rarely, if ever, mentioned.

Take Care xx 

UPDATE ..To day is Remeberance Sunday ..I explained a tiny bit about it to the boys as I felt they would take in what they wanted to and I was amazed that Kris wanted to watch the laying of wreaths on TV ...he stood in silence for the whole two mins .... impressive for a 5 year old and.   even Robbie sat quietly with only a couple of utterences. 
We managed to mix the Xmas cake too ...early this morning ....and lick the spoon the words of Kris  ...'awsome'.


Whimcees said...


We have Veterans' Day tomorrow (Sunday)here in the US. I can remember wearing the poppies every year since a child - remembering all those who fought for our freedoms and to keep us safe. So many still putting their lives on the line every day to protect us! Joining you on this day of honoring these brave men and women who fought for us.


Barbara Diane

Alison said...

What a waste of life wars are Angie! Thanks for sharing that sad account of your mum's loved one today.
Alison xx

JoZart said...

Well, John McElvie may be gone but he is certainly not forgotten whilst people like you care. That was such a lovely tribute to him Angie, so well worded and really quite touching.
Thanks to John McElvie and to all the others who have helped give us the freedom we have.
We will remember...
love Jo x