Memories and Respect
101 years ago our grandparents or, more likely, our great-grandparents, marked the end of the Great War with the Armistice of November 11th 1918. I am not sure most of us will ever be able to imagine how they felt after four years of catastrophic war, of millions dead, wounded, maimed, of the widows and orphans. It was, and still is, almost beyond comprehension. With cheering crowds and wholehearted rejoicing, bells were rung, bands paraded in the streets and fireworks filled the sky.
Although these words were actually written after the Second World War, I’m sure they were as appropriate to the first:
“For those who had lost loved ones in the conflict, it was a time to reflect”, and for many of the widows and widowers the war had produced, the noise and jubilation was “too much to bear”.
Then, a little over twenty years after the end of WW1, the Second World War began. Another five years later, after conflagration, the near collapse of civilization and the descent into a bottomless pit of inhumanity on a scale not seen before, this war also ended.
Armistice Day in this country is celebrated on the Sunday nearest to the 11th November, which has now become known as Remembrance Sunday, and is an established part of our calendar. It is a time for reflection and the poppies we wear to commemorate it represent our respect and acknowledgement of how much we owe to those who served both in those wars and the other conflicts that have taken place since then.
Next year, May 8th 2020, has also been designated as a bank holiday in the UK, to mark the 75th anniversary of the surrender of the German Government and the end of World War Two. On that day, King George VI spoke from the bomb-scarred Buckingham Palace, giving a message of thanksgiving which also remembered:
“those who will not come back, their constancy and courage in battle, their sacrifice and endurance in the face of a merciless enemy; let us remember the men in all the Services and the women in all the Services who have laid down their lives. We have come to the end of our tribulation, and they are not with us at the moment of rejoicing.”
Celebrations took place in many American cities, especially in Times Square in New York. President Truman addressed the American people from the White House, and in part commented that ‘We must work to bind up the wounds of a suffering world, to build an abiding peace.’
My father-in-law, just 21 years old and a lieutenant in the Royal Horse Guards at the end of the war, had already returned from Italy at this point. He and some fellow officers had been asked to Buckingham Palace to help celebrate. After the formalities, sixteen of them, all in uniform slipped out including the Royal Princesses, who had been on the balcony with their parents. The crowds in front of Buckingham Palace had spilled into Green Park where deckchairs and park benches were used to create bonfires as people danced and sang around the streets from Trafalgar Square to the Ritz, and this group of young people all in uniform, as so many others, were swept along like everyone else in happiness and relief. For the rest of his life, he said it was one of the most extraordinary events he has ever witnessed, such was the depth of emotion.
Also present in the crowd was the playwright Noel Coward, who walked back from Buckingham Palace to the Savoy Hotel (where he lived since his home was bombed in 1941) with his friend, the composer Ivor Novello., later noting in his diary: ‘I suppose this is the greatest day in our history.”
Like so many others up and down the country, our local church at Highclere, St Michael and All Angels, will be honouring those sacrifices and remembering those who were lost, by laying a wreath in their honour.
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die” “They shall grow not 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 will remember them.”
Highclere hopes to mark VE Day next May, in the spirit of remembrance, of respect and reflection.
That was truly a beautiful post. You are an extraordinary writer.
We will never forget those men and women who have lost their lives to protect our future.
Thank you for your reflections, but more importantly thank All who served.
Thank you for sharing with us such poignant reflection of an era we must never forget. Regardless of position or title we are equal in soul and spirit for the perseverance and preservation of life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Blessings on your land forever more.
You have been given a beautiful gift with your ability to write so beautifully. Your words come alive for me
Thank you for this beautiful article & remembrance. The tears are slowly rolling down my cheeks as I read.
Besides Randy’s Dad Robert, my father Leonard served in WW2 & Randy, who could have refused service being a sole surviving son, served in 1969 on the DMZ in Korea. I am forever thankful for all of our veterans but especially for these three men.
Thank You for remembering them! “Some gave all.”
Thank you. Beautifully written.
Beautifully said. Thank you!
Priceless as usual.
Thank you for this eloquent heart-felt message.
Thank you for sharing these touching memories of our past. We will never forget the sacrifices of those brave men and women who served our countries. We thank them for their service and remember to mark the significant history of our past by continuing to recall these stories.
Good Morning Lady Carnarvon,,
To me war is the showing of military might, strength, and power over the enemies of the world.
In the showing of ones might, victory is maintained, the return of peace to all who call upon it.
But for the ones that come home crippled, or don’t come home at all are the real special people, who paid the ultimate price for all of us.
Victory has many meaning, anyone who fought in a war knows regardless of where your post was, it was team work, that brings all of us home, and that’s a real home coming.
Thank you for reading my comments on the National Veterans Day, where ever you call home in this world.
John L. Roberts
Such meaningful and well said!!!! Thank you ever so much for recognizing all who were effected by the war! My father served in World War II… he and my mom had just gotten married! She told us stories of how difficult it was to not be with him for such a long time! The only way they would get any news was at the movie theater during a news break!!!! Thank you for this beautifully written piece!
I cannot express my overwhelming respect and admiration for the English people.
It is to the honor of your countrymen that Remembrance Day is observed in such grateful solemnity. The picture of Queen Elizabeth drying her eyes at this year’s ceremony is a clear demonstration of the depth of feeling she shared with her people—she who is noted for never displaying emotion was powerless to prevent it in recognition of the sacrifice of so many lives.
It would be an honor to mark next year’s VE Day with you at Highclere. I hope it will be able to happen.
Thank you !
My heart was warmed to read this weekend that the grandmother and aunts of HRH The Duchess of Cambridge served secretly as codebreakers during WW II. Their code names were flowers, and there a several excellent recent books written about these courageous women.
Thank you. In the USA we have two holidays: Veterans’ Day, which celebrates living veterans, and Memorial Day in May which memorializes those who are no longer with us. Today I acknowledge my beloved family members who have served. Naturally, I do remember my late husband. On Memorial Day I will sit in sacred space for those who served and reside in our memories.
Blessed are the protectors of life, liberty, and freedom.
Lorilleux 14 Allee Henri SellierBatiment T Apt 904
God bless us all.
What a beautifully written post. Thank you for sharing such poetic words of remembrance.
I have one of the 888,246 hand made ceramic poppies in my garden from the 2014 Tower of London poppy exhibition. It is a daily reminder of the sacrifice all those brave men and women made for the freedom we have today. My great Uncle was one of them, he was only 19. Let us not forget.
Thank you for another heartfelt and touching story.
I hav also been wearing my poppy necklace I bought at your gift shop
This day each year, we honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. It is with a heavy and grateful heart, that I wear red today remembering that the freedoms I enjoy came with a price. I do not take for granted the lives that were lost. Thank you for this article. For sharing an important piece in history that touches each of us, and will continue to touch the lives of those who are yet to come.
Each year after Remembrance Sunday, my poppy is floated down the River Kennet, as my tribute to the fallen. Their sacrifice allows us all to enjoy the countryside today. Thank you for sharing those past memories, that future generations must not forget.
It is a beautiful world
Thank you for your beautiful tribute. My grandfather served overseas in WWI and my father served overseas in WWII. He landed in Greenock, Scotland in January 1943 aboard the Queen Elizabeth which had been converted to a troop transport ship. I don’t think we can fathom the horrors they witnessed and endured, and the sacrifices made by so many must always be remembered.
Peace and blessings,
Charlotte Merriam Cole
What a moving post, Lady Carnarvon. We shall never forget those who served and sacrificed on both sides of the Atlantic. Their service and dedication to eradicating tyranny is remarkable, and we are such a grateful nation.
On a personal note, Veteran’s Day is always bittersweet for me, as it is my dearly departed grandmother’s birthday. Birdie was a nurse, a mother, a grandmother, and a good friend to all who knew her. So I remember her too.
The Woodlands, Texas
I just loved this beautifully written article. My Yorkshire grandfather also served but was one of those who did come home …to grow old. And my family of many thank him and all the others for their faithful service and the world they made for us.
Lets look after it and each other !
Once again you have written a beautiful tribute to our dead, wounded and missing forever. England came so close to losing itself totally in WW II, after truly believing that WW I was “the War to end all Wars.” As a wife of a Navy Admiral, thank you for your kind and loving words to these military sacrifices.
Christmas at Highclere arrived at my door moments after reading you message. Merry Christmas a little early!
I hope you enjoy it – do let me know which is your favourite part.
I’m in tears. To live in hearts is not to die. That sentence says it all. Thank you for this
That was beautiful. It’s brought tears to my eyes.
Thank you, Lady Carnarvon
We must always remember those who gave their lives to secure our freedom.
Beautiful remembrance Lady Carnarvon.
Thank you for sharing. Thanks, to all who served and to those who courageously served.
Lovely words, beautifully expressed. Your writing is always a joy and this was superb. Many thanks.
My beloved late father was a member of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, a group of elite soldiers who exemplified courage, bravery, and strength during the horrific days of the Second World War. For me, Remembrance Day is the hardest day of the year when recalling thus magnificent man. His service to home and country was replicated my millions of service people who stood up to the darkness of those dreadful years. Thank you for a glorious tribute to all who serve, and to all who continue to serve in our Armed Forces.
Jeanne Kaye Speight, Fredericton, NB Canada
“Memories and Respect”!
As a combat US Army Ranger that served in Vietnam from 1967-1969, I appreciate the sentiment and the military history of Highclere and the Carnarvon men, Lord Crawley included! I salute them on this American Veterans Day. Our brothers from Australia and New Zealand served with me there also. Let’s all not forget the ultimate sacrifices made by all our ancestors for freedom and justice.
The poppy fields are beautiful your Ladyship!
Dan Brodt, SFC- US Army Ranger-Vietnam 1967-1969
I lost my father on Dec 23 1940 in the western desert.
Kathleen from Ontario Canada.
In memory of Major William Cavendish and Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (Billy Harrington and Joe Kennedy Jr., brother in laws) two brave young men who did not grow old. God Bless!
So many thanks for your beautifully written post to honor those who suffered through a horrendous history of wars. My husband teaches the holocaust at a local museum. He sees, still today, scars from WW2. We must always remember so history will not repeat.
Thank you for being part of the remembering. God bless you.
Dear Lay Carnarvon,
Wonderful post! I have always been a fan of Churchill, by the way. Today, Veteran’s Day in the U.S. as I am sure I have already written previously, is also my birthday. My dad was in the Army for 21 years a was my husband. So it is hubby’s day too. My grandfathers also deserve mention for their service. The span is The Great War, World War II, to Korea, to Vietnam and then Desert Storm in Iraq. It bears repeating how thankful I am for their service and the service of all the British armed forces. Where we would be without these brave men and women?
Thank you, Susan
Dear Lady Carnarvon, let us all hope and pray, that this day of remembrance, may be only for these wars, and none in the future. Let us all pray and hope for peace. Desiree Creary.
Thank you, Lady Carnarvon for your reflections, but more importantly thank All who served.
Thank you for your post on Remembrance Day. You so beautifully expressed the sacrifices made by those who came before us to give us the freedom we share today.
In America today we are observing Veterans Day. It is to remember those who served in the military past and present. All of us have so much to be thankful for because someone stepped up to defend our freedom.
Have a wonderful week, dear lady!
W. Memphis, AR
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I apologise in advance for the length of this entry in your blog.
However, given the importance and solemnity of this day, and that it embraces remembrance and reflection, the following may be of interest.
Today (11/11/2019), marks the centenary of the first Armistice /Remembrance Day in 1919, a year after the Armistice was signed and the Great War came to an end.
The Armistice (of 11/11/1918) was the ‘cease fire’ of all guns across Western Europe. It marks the (unconditional) surrender of Germany in the Great War. Previous armistices had been agreed with Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The Armistice was signed in France at 5:45am local time but did not come into effect until 11am.
The Treaty of Versailles was signed later on 28 June 1919, which was precisely five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that had directly led to the outbreak of war.
In France, Armistace/Remembrance Day is a public holiday. It is formally known as “Armistice de la Première Guerre Mondial.”
In addition to ceremonies and the laying of wreaths in Paris, most French towns and villages hold their own Armistice/Remembrance Day ceremonies.
The red poppy synonymous with Remembrance Day in countries, such as Australia and the UK, is not worn in France. Instead, the symbol of remembrance in France is the bleuet, or cornflower. It was chosen because cornflowers have traditionally symbolised “pure and delicate” sentiments, while blue is one of the colours of the French flag, and was also the colour of many soldiers’ uniforms in the First World War. Profits from bleuet sales go to veterans’ charities.
In the north of France where many villages became part of the battlefield, there were a number that were razed to the ground. That included the villages of Beaumont-en-Verdunois, Bezonvaux, Cumières-le-Mort-Homme, Fleury-devant-Douaumont; Haumont-près-Samogneux and Louvemont-Côte-du-Poivre, all of which are located in the départment of Meuse.
In 1919, the land was bought by the French government and it was decided that those six villages would not be rebuilt or inhabited, but would remain as memorials, each with a mayor and an annual budget to take care of the land.
“N’oublions jamais l’Australie” (“Let us never forget Australia”) – these words appear in the classrooms of the school in Villers-Bretonneux, in northern France and are not limited to appearing only on Armistice Day. Instead, they are an ever present reminder of sacrifice, gratitude, remembrance and a special bond between two nations.
Following the cessation of hostilities, enemies became friends and embraced each other’s loss. The famous ‘letter’ from Atatürk in 1934 to the mothers of Australian and New Zealand troops (Anzacs) that died at Gallipoli is a moving and heartfelt tribute:
“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours … You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
Regarding the Second World War, although 8 May 1945 marked the end of the War in Europe, it was the end of the War in the Pacific on 3 September 1945, that marked the end of World War II.
Your mention of the Royal Family and the Princesses (“P1” and “P2”) leaving the Palace on VE night became the premise of the movie “A Royal Night Out”. An entertaining film but it was impossible for it to catch what must have been the extraordinary emotion of actually being there in London with the crowd-swell of countrymen and friends that evening.
Also, it was because of anti-German public sentiment within the UK during the Great War that led to the 1917 proclamation by King George V that changed the name of the British Royal Family from the German, “Saxe-Coburg and Gotha”, to the English, “Windsor” (from Windsor Castle).
Finally, from the British Imperial War Museum:
“The First World War left an estimated 16 million soldiers and civilians dead and countless others physically and psychologically wounded. The war also forever altered the world’s social and political landscape. It accelerated changes in attitudes towards gender and class and led to the collapse of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. The cost of waging total war – and of rebuilding afterwards – ravaged the national economies of both the victorious European Allies and the defeated Central Powers. The human cost of the First World War for Britain saw the creation of a new language of remembrance, which remains to this day. It can be seen in war memorials in cities, towns, schools, places of worship and workplaces, as well as in rituals such as Remembrance Sunday and the two-minute silence at 11am each 11 November.“
Lest we forget.
Thank you for your post, Jeffery, it reminded me of facts that I had forgotten, and I also learned some new as well. Much appreciated.
Thank you Natalie for your kind and unexpected comments. You are indeed correct; it is important to remember history and self-sacrifice – especially on solemn occasions. Also, without history our future is liable to repeat the mistakes of our past. Even worse, a generation which ignores history has no past and no future.
Today is Veteran’s Day in the ‘oi USA. Yesterday morning, before the beginning of morning worship in our 160 year old church, a lady who wished to remain anonymous delivered small gift bags containing an American flag, a calendar, a patriotic poem and lots of tasty treats for us veterans in attendance. A note attached to the bag said simply ‘Thanks for your service’ . Whether it be Remembrance day in the UK or Veteran’s Day in the US, we all need to reflect or say ‘thank you’ to all who served. Thank you for writing this beautiful patriotic piece.
At Highclere, which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, you and your family have built a beautiful domain based on things like plantings, dogs, horses, wallpaper, food, shopping, furniture, lists, and even, as you describe it, some messiness. In your writing, you highlight but also elevate that foundation with inspirational musings that are a joy to read.
Thank you – you are kind.
On this crazy, snowy Monday your post made me stop and reflect the deep meaning of this day. We can never express enough our gratitude to our soldiers. Thanks for making me feel this more than ever.
I am crying. My father was in the 101st Airborne during WWII. Thank you.
At the 11th hour on this 11th day of the 11th month we remember and may we never forget those who served and those who serve today and keep use free. A most beautiful remembrance for today’s blog, thank you dear Lady.
Thank you for this beautifully written piece
. I visited Tyne Cot Cemetery last month in Flanders.
It was such a moving experience.
My grandfather was in the first wave of American troops sent to fight in WW1. With the Grace of God, he returned.
LaSalle, Illinois, USA
Gracias Lady Carnarvon como siempre por su maravilloso blog, me conmueven todos los comentario gracias a todos,nunca sera suficiente nuestro agradecimiento a todas las personas que dejaron sus vidas, sufrieron, lucharon,perdieron todo, por dejarnos lo grandioso que es la paz.
Esa paz que tanto tenemos que cuidar por respeto aquellos que dieron todo para salvarla , por nosotros, por todos lo que habitamos este maravilloso planeta,Gracias y que nunca vuelva suceder.
Thank you Lady Carnarvon. They are remembered…..
Beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. It also – once again – represented your wonderful talent for careful research.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for such a poignant blog, I always wear my poppy and my purple poppy to remember all the animals who played their part in the war’s with pride, my dog Honey also wears a poppy on her collar, also the street where my Aunt lives is tree lined, each tree is a memorial to those from the street who didn’t return from World war 1, every November, a cross with a poppy is put by each tree, and of course on remembrance Sunday, there is a parade to the Cenotaph. We must never forget those who have fought and lost their lives for us. We are forever grateful.
Thank you, Lady Carnarvon.
Our recent European trip started with a visit to the church at Highclere for your lovely Church Talk Oct 1st. We were also fortunate to visit the war museum in London. From there we traveled to Germany and France and visited many war memorials, including those at Verdun. As the daughter of a Air Force navigator, thoughts of those that have served are ever present especially on days like today. Thank you for the touching post today and I look forward to seeing you again next May.
Thank you !
War is a terrible thing for all.
Your accounts are spot on.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
You touch our hearts honoring both civilian and military who served, sacrificed and died to free us from tyranny.
As I read your blog, a memory of General Albin F. Irzyk came to mind. As a young American tank officer, he left England for the beaches of Normandy, fought at the battle of Bastogne and then liberated the first Nazi concentration camp as he pressed forward deep into Germany. In 2017, at age 100, he wrote his last book “An Eyewitness Account – Patton’s Juggernaut – The Rolling 8-Ball -15 Extraordinary Achievements.” After retiring he continued to remain relevant, serving on the boards of the Red Cross, Rotary, and the European Council of Catholic Men.
I had the honor to meet him six months before he passed away. We had exchanged books and he invited me to come to Florida. I wanted to know more about the three weeks he spent in Washington, D.C. when Winston Churchill lived under the White House roof Christmas 1941. The decisions Churchill, Roosevelt and their Chiefs of staff made during that visit set a course to victory.
With its long history, Highclere will be the perfect place to mark VE Day next May, in the spirit of remembrance, of respect and reflection.
I enjoyed meeting you at Highclere. We still aspire to premiere the book “Churchill and Roosevelt The Big Sleepover At the White House” in England as a stage play over the next 24 months.
James Mikel Wilson
Thank you James – if you ever get around to reading “Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey” please do – you will find General Patton (who came here) and the beginning of the plane story.My book title does not quite tell you all the story!
This is a touching and moving writing, my Lady. A great time in history with mixed emotions. The greatest time in history indeed. So many important people collaborated in this story for the good of the world. Amongst those ,was a giant named, Winston Churchill.
This was beautifully written…it brought a tear or two…thank you…you have a lovely gift when putting pen to paper, or, as the case may be, words to a screen…and then to the world. Blessings to you!
Thank you Sandi
I absolutely love reading all you share with us a out here.Thank you so very much.This article especially was very moving. & beautifully worded.
Have had the pleasure of visiting Highclere twice with my daughter & look forward to visiting again & walking in your spectacular grouds next summer.
Oh my heavens. That was a beautiful tribute. I got chills after reading about the memories of your handsome, young father-in-law in the midst of all that grateful jubilation.
Here in Oregon, I raised my flag to honor my dad, an army veteran, who was in the thick of things in the South Pacific, but didn’t talk much about it to us, just like so many veterans of their time.
I am grateful and thankful to all of them who gave so selflessly.
Remembrance is a time for reflection, grieving, admiration and thanks, plus so many other different emotions and feelings for each one of us. That has been exemplified by all that has been written above in response to Lady Carnarvon’s moving piece.
Remembrance Day (as like Anzac Day) is a special day of temperance that we observe each year.
In Ypres, a remembrance ceremony takes place at the Menin Gate Memorial every night, at 8pm. At the very least there is the playing of ‘The Last Post’ by members of the local volunteer Fire Brigade. There also are occasions when extended ceremonies are held, when remembrance wreaths are laid and names read from the roll of honour.
There are some 54,000 names engraved on the walls of the Menin Gate Memorial. They are the names of the officers and men of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Forces who died in the Ypres Salient before 16 August 1917 and who have no known grave.
The Ceremony started in 1928, a year after the Menin Gate Memorial was inaugurated. A number of prominent citizens in Ypres decided that some way should be found to express the gratitude of the Belgian nation towards those who had died for its freedom and independence.
The Ceremony has taken place every night, rain, hail or shine, except for a 4 year period during World War II, when Ypres was occupied by German troops, . The Ceremony was recommenced the night after Ypres was liberated, despite the fact that the battle was ongoing just miles away.
One cannot leave Flanders fields without also referring to the famous poem written by Canadian Medical Corps doctor, Major John McCrae, who was serving with a Field Artillery Brigade in Ypres.
As recorded in the Australian Army’s website:
“The death of one of his friends in May 1915, buried in the cemetery outside his dressing station, affected him severely and he wrote his poem as a way of expressing his anguish at the loss. He was dissatisfied with the poem when he finished it and threw it away, but one of his fellow officers retrieved it and was so moved that he sent it to the media in London, where it was published by Punch on 8 December 1915. Its simple but evocative encapsulation of the horror of the trenches has made it the most famous of the war poems.”
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Spell check has chosen “temperance” instead of “remembrance” on the first line of the second paragraph, above. One wonders how that can happen – modern technology.
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
THANK YOU SO MUCH, MILADY, FOR YOUR WORDS .
RIO CLARO -SP
Thank you so much for always remembering our American Vets and a very special thank you for remembering my Dad, Len Nitti of the FWJH B-17 and his crew. The poppy crosses at the Airman Statue are such a wonderful tribute and I was very touched to see his name on one of them. Thank you!
This is beautiful. I so wish that I had asked more stories from my father, who served, and who has been gone for 16 years. But that brave, self-effacing generation brought so much hope, that they had little time for stories of the historic part that they played. With God’s help, they changed the world. In each generation, there are heroes to herald and I thank you for remembering a great day and their solemn sacrifice.