Sunday, 12 November 2017

Remembering the fallen of the First World War

Thousands of people attended the recent Remembrance commemorations across Cornwall and I was honoured to be able to lay a wreath at my local war memorial in St Enoder Churchtown today.

It is my strong belief that we need to properly remember the dead from all conflicts and, as we continue to mark the centenary of the First World War, it is especially important that we do more to learn about the conflict which engulfed the globe between 1914 and 1918.

I think it is especially difficult for people in this modern age to fully comprehend the magnitude of the losses of “The Great War,” in which ten million service personnel and some six million civilians died.

Looking back one hundred years, the most famous battle of 1917 was Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, in which more than 500,000 men died.

Siegried Sassoon famously wrote about the three-month confrontation in one of his poems, stating “… I died in Hell (they called it Passchendaele),” while Private R. A. Colwill, writing about the area in early 1918, recounted: “There was not a sign of life of any sort. Not a tree, save for a few dead stumps which looked strange in the moonlight. Not a bird, not even a rat or a blade of grass. Nature was as dead as those Canadians whose bodies remained where they had fallen the previous autumn. Death was written large everywhere.”

The overall extent of all this suffering, at Ypres and elsewhere, was truly terrifying but each loss was also intensely personal.

I am therefore pleased to be heavily involved with St Enoder Parish Council’s community project to tell the stories of the men from Fraddon, Indian Queens, St Columb Road and Summercourt who lost their lives in the First World War.

Thanks to a grant of £7,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we will be working with a range of local organisations to produce a book about the sixty-plus local servicemen, mostly clay workers and farm labourers, who did not return home from WW1.

We have tasked ourselves to discover all we can about who these men were, what they did in their lives and what happened to them.

But we won’t just be focusing on the men’s service records. We aim to tell their stories as the sons, husbands, brothers and friends that they were, and also explore the consequences for the sweethearts, wives, children, parents and siblings they left behind.

If you have any information which you think might be useful to the St Enoder Parish First World War Project, please feel free to get in contact with me on 07791 876607.

[This will be my article in this coming week's Cornish Guardian].

For more information about the St Enoder Parish First World War Project see:

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