Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This is one of our local War memorials with its poppy wreaths which were layed last Sunday when all the official ceremonies took place. I prefer to remember at the original time - the Eleventh hour of the Eleventh day of the Eleventh month when in 1918 the guns finally fell silent after four horrific years which left the world changed forever.
These are the names of the local men who lost their lives in the First World War, if you click on it you will be able to read it more easily. It isn't a long list compared with many places but Totley was a tiny place in those days and the loss would have been felt deeply by all the local people. I'm co-ordinating a project by our local history society to research each of the names on the plaque so that they stop being just names and become men with families and friends. Eventually there will be a Roll of Honour on our website with a short story of each of their lives. The project is in its infancy but already we know that the Turner boys were brothers who died seven months apart in 1917, Bernard was just 19 years old. Tom Fisher was from a farming family and was working as a cowman on a farm in a nearby Derbyshire village in 1911. He died at Cambrai just before Christmas 1917 - for his family Christmas will never have been the same again. Lt Roy Milner, at the age of 21, was the youngest of the three children of the family who lived at Totley Hall. He was in the Territorial Army and marched proudly off to war in August 1914 cheered along the lane by all the local people. By the end of September he was dead, one of the first British officers to die in WW1 - mown down by machine gun fire as he lead his men into action. Death didn't distinguish between rich and poor, farmer's son or wealthy aristocrat - their broken bodies were left on Flanders fields and a whole generation of brave young men now lie beneath row upon row of white crosses and many don't even have that to mark their sacrifice. Thousands have never been found, they were blown to bits or buried deep in Flanders mud and are now just names on a memorial. They all deserve both our remembrance and our gratitude.
As ever I remember also our two family members who gave their lives
Pte Harry Hindley Simpson, 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers killed in action August 1916
AC2 Harold Harrison RAF buried in Jakarta War Cemetery, Indonesia 1942
"When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"