Thursday, 12 November 2009


On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, back in 1918, a cease-fire to all hostilities was declared and World War I was ended.

For a long time, I think that although we remember with love and admiration all of the brave people who were part of the War - those who lived to tell the stories, and those who sacrificed their lives so that we may live freely today, it was so long ago.

However, with the appalling attrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan of late, it becomes much more real and present.

As a former soldier, I feel deeply for those who have experienced the pain and anguish of hearing their beloved son, daughter, husband or wife would be coming home on a Hercules in a coffin, rather than the display of proud celebration of them stepping off the plane in a cloud of glory.

Thinking back to the days when I was serving, and detachments deploying for their six-month stints in the field. It was Bosnia that was the hot-spot when I was in the Army, but in comparison to Iraq and The 'Ghan, it was pretty tame. It was called peacekeeping back then. Ha. I do remember though, people having to write their 'last letter' to their loved ones. Just in case.

We hardly ever watch the news, but we did catch the vivid and lasting video of the six soldiers' repatriation.

I hate that word. Repatriation.

Sickness filled my stomach as my mum's eyes filled with tears and said that could have been me. It wouldn't have been, as I was never on the front line, but you can almost understand the terror that these families are experiencing right now, preparing for their child's/husband's/son's funeral.

Pixie was asking "Why are the those men carrying the boxes from the aeroplane mummy? What's in the boxes?" We are always totally honest with our children, so I explained about the men that had been killed.

"Oh," she said. "That's so very sad mummy. You used to be a soldier mummy. Before you grew up and had me and my sister in your tummy." I love my girl.

And recent reports of how the troops are totally under-equipped. They bloody are. I remember being in HQ Squadron each morning, with the fax machine spilling out error reports from the REME boys saying that this, that and the other helicopter had faults and poor performance levels.

I was on board a Lynx helicopter from Catterick to my garrison at Wattisham and my God, it was shagged. The floor was in bits and the rotors sounded like a tractor. I made up my mind never to accept a 'lift' home from the Colonel again!

A few months later, I had left the Army and my squadron had deployed to Kosovo on peacekeeping duties. A Lynx helicopter downed in Gornji Vakuf through 'technical problems' and three of our guys died.

So we remember. We remember all of the dead. We wish they didn't die. We cringe with sickness every time another of our boys or girls loses their lives. We think of all those currently serving in the field right now. We pray for them and for peace.
And we will never forget.

The following poem is so poignant and I think, the core still applies to our serving soldiers today. For them.

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, 1915

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.



shell said...


Charlotte said...

beautiful, sad and honest post . i'm sat in tears.

Charlotte xx

sue said...

Claire do i know you from kindred spirit?? touching post! x

Claire said...

Yep, I used to be a member of Kindred. What was your board name?? x

sue said...

it began with a d :o)
i like mi voddy.. you did an amazing reading for me.. ring any bells?? hey and you were sorely missed after you left too xx