Lest We Forget

Escaping the clamour filling news headlines and social media lately, I stood alone in my living room this morning at eleven o’clock to observe two minute’s silence.

With the television on, as Big Ben chimed, cameras caught moments throughout the UK of not only gatherings of military commemorations for Armistice Day, but of ordinary people, including school children, stopping to show their respects in remembrance and in silence.

One camera panned to Somerset artist Rob Heard’s memorial Shrouds of the Somme on display at Bristol Cathedral. Each shroud carries the name of the 19,240 British soldiers who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in World War One.  We remember the  19,240 ‘Tommies’ who ‘went over the top’ and didn’t return.

I remember men from both World Wars, like my husband’s grandfather, Walter Rideout, who fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1914 and his father, Albert Matthews, a ‘Desert Rat’,  who fought in El Alamein in 1942.  Both survived and returned home and barely spoke a word about it.

But Albert’s younger brother,  Stanley George Matthews, did not survive, for he lies buried deep below the black, heavy waters off the coast of Greenland, brought down with HMS Hood, sunk on 24th May 1941 by the German battleship Bismarck. He was twenty-two years old.

I think of such men today and of walking around Green Park in London back in March when I stopped for another reason, fascinated by the way the late afternoon sun beamed flames of light upon the magnificent Bomber Command Memorial.

wwii-memorial-green-park-london-14

Bomber Command Memorial, Green Park, London (c) Sherri Matthews 2016

Designed by architect Liam O’Connor from Portland stone, bronze sculptures of a Bomber Command aircrew stand tall in the midst of the memorial.  They represent the 55,573 British, Commonwealth and Allied Nations’ Airmen who served in the RAF Bomber Command and lost their lives during the Second World War.

wwii-memorial-green-park-london-1

(c Sherri Matthews 2016

(c Sherri Matthews 2016

(c) Sherri Matthews 2016

(c) Sherri Matthews 2016

(c) Sherri Matthews 2016

(c) Sherri Matthews 2016

The memorial was dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II in 2012, the year of her Diamond Jubilee.

And in the words of Winston Churchill:

(c) Sherri Matthews 2016

(c) Sherri Matthews 2016

All these soldiers fought and died to give us the freedom we enjoy today, but I wonder what they would think of the way we treat that freedom now?

We honour them and their very great sacrifice with the deepest of gratitude. They died for our peace and safety, that we might live, and decently, when they could not, and we must not let them down.  We must remember them.

Lest We Forget…

(c) Sherri Matthews

(c) Sherri Matthews

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

(From the poem The Fallen, Laurence Binyhn 1869-1943)

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
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111 Responses to Lest We Forget

  1. Mary Smith says:

    A lovely post, Sherri.

    Like

  2. MarinaSofia says:

    Wow, that field of shrouds is deeply chilling and moving…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lynn says:

    Beautiful post Sherri. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful tribute to our brave men and women. This was much needed…thank you, my friend. ❤ xo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mumblypeg says:

    What a wonderful tribute to those thousands of men who made such sacrifices to gain freedom for each of us. It never ceases to move me and remember at the 11th hour on the 11th day on November. Thank you for a beautiful and moving post dear Sherri

    Much love Mumbly xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sherri says:

      Those two minutes of silent rememberance and reflection never fail to move the tears do they? Men, women, children, all stopping to do the same at the exact same hour, in honour of those who gave so much for us. Thank you dear Mumbly, much love to you ❤ xxx

      Like

  6. Annika Perry says:

    Sherri, a beautiful multi-layered post encapsulating the whole notion of remembrance. I love that the two minute silence is so widely observed – more so than when I was young – and it gives everyone chance to pause and consider the lives lost, the lives still in danger. As part of an Open University course I studied memorials and ever since have held them in much higher regard. The one in London are so powerful and your photographs really bring out the wonderful lustre of the Portland stone. My husband’s grandfather was in the war as well and lost his brother there. At school my son researched a project about the family during WWI and it was quite something to put together all the photos, medals and other memorabilia that my father-in-law had saved. Excellent post, Sherri – thought-provoking and sharing. Wishing you a lovely weekend. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Yes, I was so moved by the nationwide silence, as you say, more widely observed now I think. So many who lost lives, so many who serve today and fight still for our freedom. What a fascinating part of your course Annika. Last time we were in London, the Bomber Command Memorial was still under construction, it was almost an aside that we got to visit it as it stands today, so glad we did. How wonderful for your son to research his grandfather’s war service and memorabilia. Hubby has his grandfather’s and father’s medals and certificates too. My eldest son was in Bristol and able to visit the Somme display this weekend, each name listed corresponding to the fallen soldier represented by the individual shroud. No longer sheer numbers, but a powerful and moving perspective of each and every brave, courageous and fallen soldier. Thank you for your lovely comment Annika and sharing your thoughts with me. I hope you too are enjoying a lovely weekend…a beautiful day here for Rememberance Sunday ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Annika, just to let you know, I just left a comment on your ‘Trapeze’ limmerick post, but it didn’t show up. Hopefully it hasn’t gone to spam…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. jennypellett says:

    Lovely post, Sherri. I particularly like how you’ve captured the evening sun (the going down of…) in those pictures of the Bomber Command memorial- very symbolic! Also, isn’t that Shrouds of the Somme brilliant? I remember feeling very energised and inspired when I saw this and looked up the artist who I’d never heard of before. What a task he set himself, and how moving. I’m pleased to report that our students observed the two minute silence this morning beautifully. The doors to our classroom open out onto a small courtyard. We could hear the birdsong. Very evocative.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Jenny, what a beautiful two minute’s silence observed by you and your students – and to birdsong! Chokes me up just thinking about it. I am not surprised that you researched the Shrouds of the Somme…an incredible amount of work and dedication and so moving. Eldest son was in Bristol this weekend so I texted him in case he hadn’t realised and said ‘You must go and take pics!’ He did, very moved. The weekend we were in London and took these pics of the Bomber Command memorial was right after poor Mum’s stroke. She, my brother and the doctors told me and hubby to go, long booked weekend for our 10th wedding anniversary. That afternoon, walking around the park, I felt so exhausted and utterly wrung out. Watching the sun ‘going down’, I stood still before taking the photos just to take it all in and take a few breaths. No matter what has happened since, both personally and worldwide, stopping and observing and remembering certainly puts so much about modern life into sharp perspective doesn’t it? Thank you my dear friend, I hope you’re enjoying a lovely weekend ❤ xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Charli Mills says:

    Thank you for writing this! So needed to remember especially now!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. restlessjo says:

    So typical of you that you’ve returned with a Remembrance Day tribute, Sherri. 🙂 I was down at the beach at 11 this morning and there were some beautiful poppy tributes at the barracks on our Headland. Wishing you a joyful weekend, full of love. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pat says:

    Thank you, Sherri, a beautiful tribute. Like you, I woke this morning thinking of it being Veteran’s Day here in the States and a scripture came to me. It seemed appropriate considering the latest elections we just had and made me wonder if we’ll continue to have the same hope in our hearts and serve. It goes like this:

    “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” ― Luke 12:48 KJV

    I ended up writing a post on it like you did. There we go . . . on the same page again, my friend. God bless you and your loved ones and those in your family and country who have sacrificed so much to be free. Indeed, lest we forget. xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Pat, thank you. I will be over to read what I know will be your own beautiful tribute to our fallen, especially in light of all the recent ‘events’. My heart goes out to America, to us, to all nations deeply affected by Trump’s election. We are still trying to make sense of Brexit here, how it will end up affecting us all. Such early days, such unrest… A very powerful and timely scripture. I hope Trump is reading it! But now we remember all those who sacrificed so much for our freedom…it is up to us to keep those freedoms alive for ourselves and future generations particularly, and not let our beloved fallen down. God bless you and your family dear friend, sending love, hugs and prayers to you and yours especially now… ❤

      Like

  11. Thi day of remembrance I pray will never be lost. We owe our lives to those young men. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you, Sherri. Beautifully written. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. dgkaye says:

    Sher, thanks for sharing this beautiful tribute to those who shall never be forgotten, ‘Lest we Forget’. It’s called Armstice Day, Veteran’s Day and here in Canada, it’s known as Remembrance Day where we wear our poppies proudly. Truly an emotional reminder to all given the times we’re experiencing now, we must remember peace and love. 🙂 xoxo ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Deb, as I said to Charli, if there are two posts I will write by hook or by crook it’s one for November 11th, and one for Christmas. It’s called Remembrance Day here too, followed on Rememberance Sunday. Hubby and I just watched the service held in London at the Cenotaph with the Royal family, politicans and other dignitaries laying their wreaths and another silence held at 11am. My middle boy used to be in the Army Cadets and every year we’d watch the parade in our local town and attend the service afterwards, as you say, everyone wearing their poppies with pride. It is a mercy we had this incredibly important day to commemorate so soon after the US election isn’t it? Remembering what our fallen have sacrificed for us, the freedom they died for, puts everything raging and hating and despairing into sharp perspective. Thank you my dear friend, you are right, we do need peace and love…so very much… ❤ xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Mike M says:

    Beautiful and moving post.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Andy Oldham says:

    Thanks for sharing this Sherri. A beautiful tribute to those who have helped us keep our freedom, and allow us to feel safe. I honor their lives and service.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Well said, dearest Sherri. So many people today take their freedom for granted, forgetting the sacrifice that was made. The two-minute silence is always so moving, as is the playing of the Last Post. My grand-uncle was killed in The First World War. He went straight from school, having achieved the highest mark in the country on his Leaver’s Certificate, to fight on the front line as an officer and be killed by a sniper. Such a waste of life and such a mighty sacrifice, never to be forgotten. I loved my Granny so much and I’m sure I would have loved her brother just as much.

    My neighbour had a flag raised in his front garden in memory of those who’ve died in war. He was in the military and feels that a lot of his friends in more recent wars have been exceedingly shoddily treated, some of them still suffering from untreated PTSD.

    I hope you are well, my dear friend. Soon I will email you, having emerged from hibernation after many weeks. Sorry I’ve been so reclusive. Love and hugs, Sarah xxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Dearest Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your grand-uncle’s story. Very moving, I am holding back the tears just thinking about such a terrible waste of what would surely have been such an accomplished and fulfilled life. How very important to remember such men, one by one, and to never forget what they sacrificed for us. What a wonderful tribute by our neighbour, rightly so. I remember we always flew the US flag and Union Jack when we lived in California on Veteran’s Day, as it’s known there. Untreated PTSD is unforgiveable, it is the same in America. After all they have gone through, in service to our respective countries, it is appaling that more isn’t done to help them.
      I am getting there dear friend, working on my memoir, hence my quietness also, trying to keep on track as always. I know how busy you’ve been – read about your latest audio updates, woo hoo! – so no pressure at all but it’s lovely to see you poking your head out of hibernation…we will be in touch. Much love and huge hugs to you and I hope you’re enjoying a lovely weekend…beautifully sunny here, hope with you too… ❤ xxxxxxx
      PS The Last Post gets me every time…

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Absolutely beautiful and haunting photos. This may sound strange but honestly all I can write is your words have the power thrill my heart! Thank you for another journey through history . xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Tom Merriman says:

    A very nice tribute, Sherri. We must never forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I hope we never forget but at the same time I worry that we are now starting to glorify war with many battles now being celebrated. Remembrance Day and for us ANZAC day are our two traditional days of remembering for the purpose of not letting it happen again and like you I had my two minutes silence on the 11/11 at 11 at home. Those shrouds are a chilling reminder of the results of war and I don’t wonder that your relatives along with countless others that fought never spoke of it. They had seen things that were just so horrific. Lets hope that those that fell did not do so in vain. A lovely rememberance post Sherri. Hope you have a good week. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Let’s hope not dear Irene, let’s hope not. We live in troubling times. Wars rage the world over, children suffer horrendously and young men and women fight on today. Those, like my husband’s grandfather, who returned home after being gassed with Mustard Gas, worked as a farm labourer and lived to his early 80s, but never spoke a word about all he had witnessed. How can we even begin to imagine what it must have been like in the trenches, in conditions we can’t even begin to comprehend? In any battle conditions, then and now? God help us all from the terrors of war…lest we forget. Thank you my friend, I hope you too have a good week, and I look forward to walking with you soon… ❤ xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Tina Frisco says:

    Bless you, Sherri. Beautiful post ~ heartwarming sentiment, gorgeous photos ~ all reminding me of my own family members who served and who died. May those who serve always be cared for, never neglected, always honored, always loved… And love and hugs to you, dear friend ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Bless you and thank you so much dear Tina, my heart goes out to you and your fallen beloved ones, who served and sacrificied the ultimate price so that we might live in peace and freedom. We must always honour them and remember them and hold them in the highest regard with the deepest of gratitude. Much love and hugs to you my dear friend ❤ xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Jools says:

    Beautifully expressed Sherri – a fitting and poetic tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Norah says:

    Thank you for remembering, Sherri, and for reminding us that we should remember too. I also sat in silence at my desk as the 11th hour approached. How wonderful to think that the 11th hour traveled around the world, like a Mexican wave, for 24 hours. A full day of the world remembering, but for each of us only a minute or two. My Dad fought in WWII, as did his brother, and some of my mother’s brothers. They also spoke little of it. I think many weren’t able to come to terms with their experiences and didn’t want to relive by telling the horrors they saw.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      I love that – ‘like a Mexican wave, for 24 hours…’ What a beautiful and poignant thought! Your family is filled with brave and courageous men, dear Norah – and women, what a toll war takes on entire families – our nations standing side by side, just one example as read in the words engraved on the beautiful Portland stone of the Bomber Command Memorial. With so much rage and hatred and noise in our world today, it is even more important to take those two minutes, to shut it all out, to remember what is most important. And through our silence, we hope to reach into their silence and whisper how very thankful we are, of the highest esteem in which they are held and promise to never forget them and their priceless sacrifice, to remember them always. Thank you so much for sharing this small part of your beloved family’s story with me dear friend ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  23. erikleo says:

    Freedom in a limited sense, yes. I am all in favour of reflecting on the soldiers who so cruelly lost their lives but we should also reflect on the horror of war, NEVER glorify it and recognise that all wars are a sad comment on our limited human development. A truly mature humanity would never go to war; negotiation would be the preferred option to all violent forms of settlement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you for your comment Erik, and I totally agree – never must war be glorified. We remember and pay our respects to ensure that these horrors do not repeat themselves. The men in my husband’s family who fought in both wars never spoke of the horrors they witnessed. They returned and carried on with life – Granddad was invalided out after an attack with mustard gas – but both suffered nightmares to the end of their days. No talk of PTSD existed then. By WWII, there were whispers of ‘Shell Shock’ and not much else. History is supposed to teach us lessons, but we don’t learn. This is the tragedy. War is truly horrifying, a senseless waste of young lives. Unfortunately, when mad men make up their minds and do not listen to negotiation but invade our countries, we have no option but to go to war to fight for our countries and our freedom. So long as man exists on this planet, there will always exist the desire for power by some. I don’t know anybody who glorifies war. Nobody wants it. Those men who fell didn’t want it. No mother wants to send her sons to battle. I don’t. Let’s hope that in the future, negotiation works…

      Liked by 1 person

  24. This is a beautiful, moving tribute to those we should remember Sherri.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Absolutely beautiful, Sherri xx

    Liked by 1 person

  26. simplyilka says:

    Hi Sherri!

    This was a beautiful and touching post. I can say that these men also provided the freedom I enjoy today. So many of my family members had to die because of a war they never wanted. And I was raised with the awareness and responsibility to have this never happen again. Some people are mad and so many people have to die because of this madness. Even we are now living a life in Europe where peace and freedom are there in the form of ‘not being attacked by military bombs’ and ‘not having to run to hiding places’, the madness is still happening in the world around us. Thanks for this sensitive post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Dear Ilka, I am so very sorry so many of your family members had to die in ‘a war they never wanted’. Their legacy raised you with honour and truth. By honouring and remembering their memories and thanking them for their for their very great – the ultimate – sacrifice, we do indeed hold firm in the hope that such a thing must never happen again. To ensure they did not die in vein. Yet, as you say, troubles are not far away and the world is growing ever more unsafe. I am honoured and humbled by your words, it is never an easy subject to write about. Thank you so much my dear friend, but it is I who thank you and your family and say only this: We will always remember… ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  27. This was a beautiful post, Sherri. I stood for the two-minute silence on both Friday and Sunday. John, my partner, was in Waitrose on Friday morning and he told me how every single person stopped to observe the two-minute silence. It was wonderful to hear what he said. Even the construction guys outside our house stood for those two minutes. I don’t know if you watched the Remembrance service from The Royal Albert Hall on Saturday evening, but it was a very moving tribute to all our brave men and women. The silence, as the poppies fell, was such a moving experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Hugh. I did the same on both days too, on Sunday with hubby as we watched the commemeration at the Cenotaph in London on the BBC. We did watch part of the Remembrance service from Royal Albert Hall too, and yes, it was very moving. How moving too knowing that so many across the land no matter where they were, stopped to observe the silence. There is a great deal of emotion caught in those two minutes isn’t there? Lest we forget…
      As an aside Hugh, I’m having a problem not being able to comment on blogs since this afternoon. Very annoying. I’ve emailed aksimet, so hopefully they’ll sort it out for me asap. I was hoping to get round to a few blogs this afternoon, including yours, but if I can’t comment, I don’t see the point. But…if you see just a like, know I’ve been there and would have commented if I was able… xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah! The dreaded spam monster, Sherrie. It caught me about a month ago. Unfortunately, it was when all the WordPress Happiness Engineers were on a two-week conference, so I had to wait a few days before anybody picked up my cry for help. It’s been affecting a lot of bloggers since the spring and seems to be doing the rounds. I hope they get it sorted out for you soon. Those who find you in their spam folder can unspam you. Once they do that, you can then leave comments again, but only on their blog. The problem has highlighted how often we should all check our WordPress spam folder. I check mine at least once a day now. I’ve looked, but you’re not in there. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sherri says:

          Oh no! Hugh, that’s awful. I’m so glad you finally got it sorted. This has happened to me several times now since blogging, so I had the akismet email address to hand. I did hear back this morning and it looks as if it’s sorted, I do hope so! You’ll know when you see my comment on your blog! And thanks for checking I wasn’t in your spam…I will be certainly checking mine much more often now too! 🙂 xxx

          Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you for the reminder. That memorial is a fitting one. And the poppies- so poignant….

    Liked by 1 person

  29. “All these soldiers fought and died to give us the freedom we enjoy today, but I wonder what they would think of the way we treat that freedom now?”
    Yes, I wonder too Sherri.
    Poignant post, as always when you treat of such topics. Thank you for these men and women (more in the shadows, but how courageous they were!) who fought for a real cause. And thank you for putting this in perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Yes…’a real cause’. How brave those men and women were, whether in or out of the shadows. An excellent point. Many thanks Evelyne, I really appreciate your, as always, very thoughtful and insightful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. prior.. says:

    Really enjoyed this S- and looks like you caught the light just right! The shadows add something special.
    The real poppies at the end made me realize I have not seen any vets here in the states with the donation cans in a LONG time! Sniff. I feel like every remembrance holiday here we would see them at entrances to stores – and I always donated and enjoyed the little fake poppy! I hope to see some again sometime.
    Anyhow – really well done post –
    Xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Ste J says:

    A wonderful tribute and great photos. As long as we do this we shall never forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Luanne says:

    Thank you for honoring the people who have come before us–and their heroism. In the UK you are so much closer to WWII because of the presence of the enemy around you. Other than a few on the coastline and of course Hawaii, in the US the war has been allowed to fade into “ancient history.” It’s very dangerous when that happens, of course. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you Luanne, and I agree, it is dangerous and we must not forget. Every town and village here has a memorial inscribed with the names of all the war dead from both world wars, honured with poppy wreaths laid at their base every Remembrance Day… xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Luanne says:

        Oh, I can imagine how vivid it all still is to each town–and at least part of the population. I hope the young people learn from it. Memorial Day here tends to be more about the loss of those in our own lives, and although there are people and organizations that approach it from a memorial for those who have died in wars or who have fought in wars and subsequently died, a lot of the population seems more removed from it all.

        Liked by 1 person

  33. Denise says:

    Sorry I haven’t been in touch for a while. Just catching up with a few posts, and this is a particularly beautiful one. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Denise, I think of you so often, what a delights to see you here today, thank you so much for coming by and for your lovely comment. I have been bad at visiting blogs, please forgive me. We must catch up! Hope all is well with you and your LDs ❤

      Like

  34. Beautifully written and thoughtful post Sherri. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Kay Wilson says:

    Hi Sherri, see you on FB a lot. This is a good to see that our fallen & veterans are honored. My husband is a history buff, reading so mamany stories on World War 2. We just lost a church member veteran @ 97. He was flown to Washington DC recently & honored there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kay…how lovely to see you here as as well as on FB! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story about your 97 year old veteran…so important to honour them and never forget their very great sacrifice… bless you Kay ❤

      Like

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