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+44 (0) 203 303 3172
18th November 2018
Over the past couple of weeks, I, along with millions of these shores have had the opportunity to remember those who were killed or injured in the service of their country.
Luckily for me, I had another opportunity to march with my late father’s medals past the Cenotaph in Whitehall. Such huge crowds, such cheering and waving of flags, way more than last year. It’s unlikely one will see another mass of humanity in London SW1, unless there’s another conflict – God forbid.
In Horseguards Parade beforehand one met numerous people. Some from The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (Princess Royal’s Volunteer Corps) or the FANY’s, others like the Ghurkas (see photo) and a few ex-servicemen from the British Nuclear Test Veteran’s Association. One of their number explained to me how he saw his finger bones through closed eyelids when the first white flash happened on Christmas Island in 1957. He was just 35 miles away.
I’d like to leave you with this poem……
Dulce et decorum est by Wilfred Owen
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Latin phrase is from the Roman poet Horace: “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”