Sunday 8th November 2015 is Remembrance Sunday in the UK, the first Sunday before Armistice Day on 11th November. Armistice Day 1918 marked the conclusion of World War I; the war to end all wars. Unfortunately the geo-political ramifications of that conflict mean we are still fighting it today, one way or another.
The Royal British Legion has its annual Poppy Appeal to raise funds to support military service personnel, you can read about the work that they do and how to donate here. Hereford has been marking the centenary of WWI by creating The Poppy Man, designed by Angela Pendleton and sculpted from metal by George Thomas. He sits on a bench in High Town contemplating the nearby mural, a tribute to the role of the 1/1st Herefordshire Regiment.
This local regiment took part in the Gallipoli Peninsula landing of Suvla Bay, intended to link up the Anzac Cove and Helles landings. The idea was for the Allied troops to defeat the Ottoman Turks, but it has gone down in history as a classic example of a futile waste of life. The Herefordshire Regiment landed on 9th August 1915 and were mentioned in despatches by General Sir Ian Hamilton, “..the 1st/1st Herefordshire, which attacked with impetuosity and courage..“. In command of the British landing at Suvla was Lieutentant-General Sir Frederick Stopford, his performance is considered the most incompetent of the entire war! By the end of December, approximately 18,000 casualties later, the Allied troops were withdrawn from Gallipoli.
This seems a fitting time to quote First World War poet, Wilfred Owen’s “Futility”:
Move him into the sun –
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.
Think how it wakes the seeds, –
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved – still warm – too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
– O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?