Musings on the byways of popular culture
11/11/2018 by BigJimBob 42 Comments
Baron Harkonnen says
11/11/2018 at 08:36
Never forget those that have paid the ultimate price for us.
11/11/2018 at 18:15
Can I ask how anyone could “forget” the two world wars?
Where the f*** do you go to do that?!
Why would forgetting them be such a bad thing?
Why are people so intent on bringing up war over and over again when, clearly, the people involved invariably DIDN’T want to talk about it?
I think “remembrance” holds this country back more than almost anything else.
It is a prime reason for the Referendum decision of 2016.
Might not be popular … sure as damn, it wouldn’t go down well with the red-top newspapers and the far right … but couldn’t we give “forgetting” a chance?
Uncle Wheaty says
11/11/2018 at 18:42
To not forget gives you this right to free speech.
I need say no more.
12/11/2018 at 07:04
Sorry @deramdaze but I do not agree with that. My grandad was one of the lucky ones who survived Ypres. As a 16 year old wanting to know about his life which was then coming to an end I listened as he told me about the horrors of the trenches and how even in the lull of fighting they had to endure rats and other infestations with meagre rations and horrific conditions. Before the bombing and the shooting.
He didn’t glorify it but he remembered it and not in revelry.
I remember him too and what he and thousands of others did for us. To say we should forget that is pretty astonishing – especially in the prevailing nationalistic atmosphere in many countries in the world.
12/11/2018 at 08:39
I’m with you on this. It’s not about remembering war. It’s about remembering sacrifice so it doesn’t happen again.
12/11/2018 at 09:51
Yep. I’d say it’s also about honouring those who fought. They may not seek honour (who does?), but they damn well deserve it.
12/11/2018 at 11:14
12/11/2018 at 08:38
‘Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’
11/11/2018 at 09:13
11/11/2018 at 09:44
That Thackeray song made me think of Robert Graves’s Goodbye to all that.
Along with all those who fell in WW1, there were also many who somehow had to return to normal life after going through the hell of the trenches. Nowadays we know a lot more about post-combat trauma. They just had to put a brave face on it.
11/11/2018 at 19:55
99p on Amazon just for today.
John Walters says
12/11/2018 at 12:12
Struggling to find the link.
12/11/2018 at 16:10
It was in yesterday’s Kindle Daily Deal, sadly now over.
11/11/2018 at 09:52
I find today more moving every year as I get older.
Dave Amitri says
11/11/2018 at 09:58
Agreed. My youngest are 23 now and 100 years would either have come back destroyed or dead. It’s a stark reality isn’t it?
11/11/2018 at 13:42
Exactly. The youngest soldier who died was 4 months older than Twang Jr.
11/11/2018 at 10:24
If you get the chance see They Shall Not Grow Old. Think it’s on telly tonight. As Peter Jackson said in the Q and A with Mark Kermode, it humanizes the soldiers by taking them out of that Charlie Chaplin world.
11/11/2018 at 10:33
We saw it with the streamed Q&A. The modern post production is remarkable as were the small sections of dialogue which had been transcribed by lip readers then recreated with the correct dialect for the regiment.
11/11/2018 at 20:22
Indeed, a very moving film.
Kid Dynamite says
11/11/2018 at 11:32
Lando Cakes says
11/11/2018 at 16:07
My paternal grandfather was billeted in Nivelles, Belgium 100 years ago today. Like many here, I find today more moving as I get older.
One thing I recently learned was that in the interval between the agreement that the armistice would start at 11am and 11 am itself, thousands of men were killed, ordered to keep on fighting up to the end. For absolutely no purpose whatsoever.
12/11/2018 at 05:34
Me too…I find it all almost unbearably moving. As I said elsewhere, my paternal grandfather was killed at Loos in September 1915, around the time of my father’s second birthday. His body was never found. I never knew him of course, but to all intents and purposes neither did my father. My grandmother was a widow from 1915 to her death in 1973. On top of everything else she worked in a munitions factory. in a viciously toxic atmosphere and with the ever-present threat of being blown to kingdom come.
The country can do what it likes – and we can certainly do without the confected moral outrage about poppies and the jacket the Labour leader of the day is wearing – but I shall go on remembering. Until I’m so old that I forget, obviously.
Moose the Mooche says
11/11/2018 at 17:39
11/11/2018 at 23:28
My Dad’s Uncle is buried at St Sever, Rouen.
Remembrance Sunday isn’t about remembering the war, it’s about honoring those who fought and died. In no way does it hold anyone or anything back.
12/11/2018 at 07:24
As I have doubtless mentioned before, Mrs F was raised in the Somme as her father worked for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission until he retired. Her brother still does. So the 11/11 is sort of the family business.
Nothing can prepare you for the sight as a coach load of chatty teenage school kids begin their tour of the trenches and white headstones. They start out in “bunking off lessons” mode and pretty soon switch to “jeez, this was real”. A respectful silence quickly develops.
If you can visit Thiepval memorial, with 72,337 names, and not choke up at how lucky your life is, then you have no soul. The white headstones reach the horizon in every direction.
The whole point is to remember the lives sacrificed during a war, and to hopefully prevent another from happening. A certain orange-faced cretin could do with learning this, pronto.
Great post FS.
12/11/2018 at 09:34
“Last night I heard him shouting in his sleep –
He doesn’t need a Sunday in November
Every night for forty years … my father still remembers”
12/11/2018 at 13:05
My grandads story always brings a smile to my face.
Freezing cold and miserable after evacuation at Dunkirk he was lambasted for leaving a Bren gun on the beaches.
Fought in the western desert and at Selerno in Italy. He ended the war in Austria guarding russians who fought on the German side under General Vlasov.
He survived the whole war without a scratch but after demobbing and returning home fell on the stairs of his new home and badly broke his ankle….
He had a limp for the rest of his life.
12/11/2018 at 18:38
As an Irishman who lived in London for years and whose grandfather served in the British Army even possibly in WW1, I’ve something approaching ambivalence to the poppy and remembrance. I fully agree that those who died deserve to be remembered and their sacrifice acknowledged but I also regard with deep suspicion the extent to which military service and the glory and heroism that is attached without exception to it permeates British contemporary life and media and sport etc. It’s everywhere from Countryfile to Football Focus to the Invictus Games to Poppygate every year and I can’t help thinking it’s about keeping a supply of cannon fodder handy for the next time they’re required to fight for dubious national interests in some foreign fields. Britain remembers but does it learn or even want to learn from the past?… Siegfried Sassoon…
I saw the Prince of Darkness, with his Staff,
Standing bare-headed by the Cenotaph:
Unostentatious and respectful, there
He stood, and offered up the following prayer.
‘Make them forget, O Lord, what this Memorial
Means; their discredited ideas revive;
Breed new belief that War is purgatorial
Proof of the pride and power of being alive;
Men’s biologic urge to readjust
The Map of Europe, Lord of Hosts, increase;
Lift up their hearts in large destructive lust;
And crown their heads with blind vindictive Peace.’
The Prince of Darkness to the Cenotaph
Bowed. As he walked away I heard him laugh.
by Siegfried Sassoon
12/11/2018 at 23:44
Never, ever live in the USA.
The Services are fetishised over here in a way that borders on something creepy. Most of the Service members I know are decent people who seem embarrassed by it, but I occasionally think that if a charismatic General declared a coup, he’d be a 50/50 bet to still be in power after a year.
13/11/2018 at 02:07
Yes, “loves our Military and Veterans” is the highest praise Trump can bestow on Republican political candidates.
12/11/2018 at 22:25
I confess to something akin, you helping articulate my thoughts, the way that remembrance seems to have become all about the glory and little of the horror. This was forcibly added to by the closing sequences of Peter Jackson’s fabulous documentary, veterans returning home to a country that didn’t want the details or indeed much, from demob to the dole, such as it was. And it doesn’t seem that has changed much, given the plight of many of their modern day equivalent, back from wherever to a scrapheap and indifference, however much Help for Heroes might put a shiny gloss on the tarnish of damage, physical, social and psychological. I am sorry if my words upset or offend but all the symbolism of poppy day seems to have become an excuse to ignore it any and every other day, a sop full of platitudes to make everyone feel better the other 364 days.
12/11/2018 at 22:59
At least this year has been more about the realities of WW1, and by extension war in general, than the kind of tacit-endorsement-of-whatever-stupid-military-adventure-we’re-currently-engaged-in that it’s become this century. Also, the competitiveness over poppies is absolutely sickening. “Mine’s bigger than yours. I’ve had mine on since the middle of September. I CARE MORE THAN YOU, FUCKING TRAITOR.”
12/11/2018 at 23:08
What I think I see is a fetishisation of the poppy as the War generations die. I’ve never been much interested in the world wars and that might be because I don’t know any family members who served (I think my maternal grandfather may have been a navy man, but I never met him and he was never spoken of). Looking above I see a lot of people making their connection to Remembrance through direct family members, and as those living links disappear there are at least three things happening to the symbolism of the poppy:
It is becoming less prominent as a new generation grows up without family experience of war. Maybe that has always been happening. I read a Tweet the other day of an extract from one of Larkin’s letters to his mother. He complains that he had to insist on the silence being observed and one one of very few in his library wearing a poppy. He was writing in 1971. However, in reaction to that …
It is becoming more prominent as keyboard warriors insist that everyone has to show respect in the same way that they do, the so called ‘poppy fascism’ which leads to tirades against footballers who choose not to sport a poppy on the Remembrance weekend kit, even though the ‘tradition’ of doing so is only a few years old. For the record, I always pop a few quid in the British Legion tins but have never worn a poppy, and I have never had any grief about that from any quarter.
The poppy is becoming the thing which spans the gap between Halloween and the Christmas ads starting on telly. More and bigger art installations are based around it while the quiet, deep symbolism of the humble paper poppy is diluted. The other weekend I was in Braintree Essex, where pretty much all the charity shops, several other shops and a local undertaker all had poppy themed windows. That never used to happen did it? Perhaps it started with Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London (which I visited and though was superb). It is poppy as spectacle, and as Instagram material with all the meaning that people attach to a chocolate egg at Easter.
Edit – ah. I see Moose was making much the same point as I was when I was rattling away, with the added virtue of brevity.
12/11/2018 at 23:16
You wrote more than me because you care more.
Actually, that’s probably true.
13/11/2018 at 07:20
As I explained above, Remembrance is my family business.
‘Poppy Day’ is actually Remembrance Sunday. It’s not about glamourising war, it’s about raising funds to support veterans and to respect the millions who died so that you might sit comfortably in your homes and type what you like at strangers. It takes one minute out of your life once a year, which surely isn’t much to ask.
The ill-educated morons who link the Poppy Appeal to their political agenda are just that – morons.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission are still interring the remains of those who fell in the Somme 100 years on and will continue to do so. FYI, they are funded mostly by the Canadian government.
I urge you to visit a cemetery the next time you’re in France – many are a less than an hour’s drive from Calais.
Get educated. Take a look at :
And never forget.
13/11/2018 at 07:51
Thanks, Steve. Maybe I too should have put Poppy Day in inverted commas; I was recognising the zeitgeist I see, where the intent and importance of what you describe is almost prostituted in the dogma as described by other posters just above and below mine. (And, yes, prostituted is a hell of an indictment and will (and does) offend those who understand more than the media flashes, promoted out of self-interest and self-importance. Of bloody course it isn’t about glamourising war, but there are so many morons, as you say, who think it might. And it puts me off to the extent, anathema to you, I’m sure, and to the funding of the remembrance programme, that I wonder yearly where it is the white poppies can be sourced. Sorry, it is what it is. I haven’t yet, for fear of upsetting those to whom it means more; I have been privileged to know ex-serviceman from all the wars since and including 14-18 as part of my daily work life.
I have visited war cemeteries in France and Belgium: I find them extraordinarily moving. I make a point of revisiting that feel to reinforce it: the National Arboretum at Alrewas offers me some similar thoughts, miraculously managing none of the jingoism I feared it might ahead of first going. (The posts commemorating those shot for cowardice is especially powerful.) However, the most galling graves for me are the single scatterings of War Graves Commission plots in tiny and near deserted graveyards in far flung spots throughout the highlands and islands of Scotland. To read the name and age, always the age, of some son of Barra, destroyed far from his home, lovingly interred alongside his kin always wells me up. As it is now.
13/11/2018 at 08:23
You’re right, the poppy motif is at risk of being adopted by the same kind of pathetic jingoists who paint a George Cross on their faces to ‘celebrate’ the Battle Of Britain, ignoring the contribution made by the 574 non-British pilots who gave their lives during that.
It’s good to be reminded of what it really means.
The CWGC lists 9471 cemeteries in the UK, many with only one white headstone.
There are 347 white headstones at the Brookwood 1914-1918 Memorial in Surrey, if you don’t fancy a trip to Calais.
13/11/2018 at 08:43
I went to Daylight Music at Union Chapel last Saturday for Darren Hayman’s Thankful Villages project. A thankful village is one which sent ment to the first World War and welcomed them all home again, and Hayman visited each one and wrote a song or created a sound or video montage.
There are 59 thankful villages in the whole of Britain. There are none at all in Scotland.
13/11/2018 at 15:04
I wear my poppy badge all year round.
Its a tiny embelleshment to a small RAF ensignia badge given to me by my son
A RAF corporal, currently in the gulf servicing ground support kit, he’s completed two tours in Iraq and a bitch of a tour in Afganistan where his base was mullered by morter and RPG fire every night for 4 months.
On his second night in Afgan a mate was hit by shrapnel and lost his leg below the knee whilst he and my son ran for cover during a strike…..he told me another piece made a noise like a drill as it passed his head.
Even though his service makes me proud and every time he is out of area i have a little panic when the phone rings, i detest the loss of a generation during the First World War and think the whole bloody mess could have been sorted by simply shooting the heads of state of all countries involved.
13/11/2018 at 16:01
Good lord, Fishy. That would induce simultaneous pride and, erm, motion.
My best wishes for the young man to come home safe and well. And for all his colleagues.
13/11/2018 at 22:24
Yes indeed, thankyou.
Fairly cushy posting at the mo in the UAE.
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