Leaving for war

We will remember them..

Over the past few days we have been marking the 70th anniversary of the D Day landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944. As some of you will know, I live in France, not too far from the beaches ‘Utah’, ‘Omaha’, ‘Juno’, ‘Gold’, and ‘Sword’. On a daily basis, I see evidence of the resistance to occupation during the 1939-45 conflict.

In a few weeks from now we shall be marking 100 years since the beginning of the Great War of 1914-19. Millions of young men and their families were victims of this most vicious war and while there remain only very few people who have direct recollections of the suffering, most of us are deeply conscious of the dreadful legacy.

Of course there have been many conflicts both before and since, but these two ‘World Wars’ affected every family living at the time and featured on these sites. It seems appropriate to pause for a few moments and to reflect on the sacrifices made in order that we can enjoy the freedoms we often take for granted today. In the course of my research, I have come to understand not only something of the suffering of those who served, but also of those they left behind.

Records relating to military service are now more widely available than ever before, and with a little effort we can usually find information regarding our grandparents and great grandparents military service. Thanks to the work of organisations such as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission we can also find records for those who gave their lives. Some of the service records give an insight into conditions for the young men concerned, including the often harsh living and disciplinary regimes for servicemen. I shall be adding records such as these to the individuals on my sites over the coming months. I am also drafting a page on the Brampton Old and New site in order to show something of the impact on that community of the 1914-19 war.

Whilst the young men who served are rightly the focus of most commemorations, we should also be aware that those left behind, parents, wives and children, were all affected. Their sacrifice, and the effects on their lives must not be forgotten either. Often these were the unsung heroes of the conflicts, working to keep family units together, to produce the energy and the materials necessary for the war efforts, and of course cultivating every available scrap of land to produce the food necessary to feed populations isolated by war. The personal and social impact of war on civilians is beyond our imagination and records are less precise, simply because many of the effects are not always measurable. One of my objectives for my sites over the next year or two will be to document more of these social impacts.

At this time of commemoration I am reminded that we should never forget..

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