Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

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"


Gracie said...

"When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

How true is that! Thanks for remind us of the ones who sacrificed their lives for a better tomorrow for us to live. I'd like so many young people around the world could feel the meaning of this sentence too!
Gracie at

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Such a tragic waste of lives, and still it goes on. Heartbreaking.

Diane said...

It breaks my heart every year - as it should. xxx

Remiman said...

As long as we remember, they'll never be forgotten!

Rosie said...

Like you, Rowan, I like to remember on this day - we must never forget!
What a wonderful project to be involved in - very worthwhile and rewarding:)

Anonymous said...

How poignant.

debbie bailey said...

Here is America we call today Veterans Day. We also remember the soldiers presently serving their country. I certainly do as my first born son is now serving in Iraq. Thank God he isn't fighting, although there's always the chance of a stray missle striking the base. You can bet my prayer life has taken an upward turn!

Anonymous said...

You created a tender and meaningful tribute. I graduated in social administration, so I think about the course content on the effect of war on policy making - such as that's how 'the authorities' discovered how much improved education was needed, public health and also how the armed forces had to ensure in the future that recruits who were related went into different regiments in case they were killed to lessen the impact on families and communites. Those kinds of influence on policy making were from WW1 and I hope that those lessons are never forgotten.

Bovey Belle said...

Thank you for this post Rowan, and well done in researching the lives of the men named on your village memorial, so they become real people again and not just names.

We remembered our family war dead today too.

Thimbleanna said...

What a lovely project to be involved in Rowan. Thank you for telling their stories.

Hildred and Charles said...

Thank you for your post Rowan, - I write this as we prepare to attend Remembrance Day services in our small town where my husband, as one of the few Veterans left, will read the names of the Fallen and give the Act of Remembrance, 'They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old, Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn, At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We shall remember them.

Charles lost his two brothers in France and in Holland.

Lieut. Gordon Finch and Sgt. Thomas Crawford.

Your project is surely an act of love and respect and gratitude.

Morning's Minion said...

Like the others who have posted comments I need to say that you are involved in a wonderfully meaningful project of remembrance.
When the last of a generation passes who actually knew someone, the memories begin to fade unless there are those interested enough to recreate them as more than a name on a census form or a face in a faded photograph.
Thank you for the comments you have posted on my blog this week as I labored over my own remembrance project!

Granny Sue said...

Rowan, thank you for this post. This day makes me so sad every year--centuries and centuries of war, and we still know no better way to solve our problems. So my sons go off to war along with the sons of so many other women. I am proud of them all, and yet sadness is the bedrock of the military life, isn't it?

Janet said...

Such a wonderful project to be involved with but I'm sure it can be sad, too. All those lives....gone. At least you're helping to keep them from being forgotten.

Derrick said...

Hello Rowan,

A very worthwhile tribute you are paying these men, which I hope everyone in your community will appreciate. I think the commemoration services are becoming more closely linked to the deaths that have taken place in recent years and continue now in Afghanistan, which is entirely appropriate. We do not seem to have learned much from 'the war to end all wars'.

BTW, I love your new header pic.

FireLight said...

Beautiful, tender...and so very true... your closing quote encompasses the spirit of the day for the living and the lost soldiers. My life is always more enriched when I stop here.
Thank you, Rowan.

~Sheila~ said...

I recently heard from reatives on my dad's side of the family that I didn't know about. They have a lot of information about my grandfather and his brothers and cousins in WW1, including their service records and where they fought. It's hard to believe they were young enough to be my grandsons now. Such a waste of a generation.
We have to remember them and their sacrifices.

LinDragon said...

L x

Julie said...

Dorothy - Your project of learning the background on these boys/men is a wonderful one. You know how much I feel for our Jack, Archie and William Munro. At least I know their stories. I also learned that my biological paternal grandfather fought in France in WWI - but he lived.