Monday, 4 August 2014

A Hundred Years Of Remembrance

tower of londn poppies

It was one hundred years ago today that Britain declared war on Germany, and World War One began. This amazing display of ceramic poppies outside the Tower of London marks all the military fatalities in that conflict. [full story and superb photos here]

My grandfather fought on the Somme. He never spoke about it to my Dad – and my father believed he didn’t say anything much to my grandmother either, about the horrors he witnessed. I do know that in 1939, when Chamberlain announced on the radio that we were again at war with Germany, my Grandfather put his head in his hands and wept “Oh God”"! Not again!”. In my jewellery box I have two tiny items – both brass and made from shell cases.


Mailly 1916 – a small village in the Somme which saw a lot of fighting. On the back is engraved H & G [for Harry and Gladys – my grandparents] Did he bring it back as a gift for his fiancée? The second item is a little cross – also made from a shell case. I thought that too was WW1 – but the markings on the bottom show it was manufactured in Portugal in 1950.

Whatever the age and provenance of these two objects, the thing that strikes me about both is that they were originally made in a munitions factory, to kill the enemy – but they have been remade into symbols of love – a heart, and the cross of Christ. I am reminded of the prophet’s words about re-purposing weaponry…

They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.

I found this prayer for peace on the Church of England website – it seems appropriate on this particular centenary day -  as we look back to the horrors of past war, and look around to the atrocities of present day conflict, that we should look up to the Prince of Peace and commit our world to Him in our prayers.

God give peace

O God of truth and justice,

we hold before you those whose memory we cherish,

and those whose names we will never know.

Help us to lift our eyes above the torment of this broken world,

and grant us the grace to pray for those who wish us harm.

As we honour the past, may we put our faith in your future;

for you are the source of life and hope,

now and for ever.  Amen.


  1. It's just so tragic that despite all the rememberance ceremonies man doesn't seem to have learned anything and wars still go on all over the world. Will we never learn?


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