Remembrance Sunday

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Remembrance Sunday

Postby Govangirl » Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:30 pm

The service at the Cenotaph for Remembrance Day today was all the more poignant for me as I had been researching my family tree this year to discover more about my two great uncles who had given the ultimate sacrifice. The events were deeply moving, particularly the veterans’ walk-by when you witness so many with memories they never forget and how sad it must be for them to see the world as it is today, considering the sacrifice so many of them made. I do not on this day want to mention anything about those hypocrites like Blair who were present as I realise this thread might well descend into that. I agree but I would prefer that on Remembrance Sunday, we instead make it our duty and obligation to honour the heroes and vow never to forget them.
I hope it is okay to share the following: I travelled to Singapore and Thailand this year to visit my Uncle Harry’s grave and discovered his terrible journey from capture in Singapore to building the Death Railway before succumbing to a dreadful death. It was the most humble and moving journey. This is an edited piece I sent for my old school’s current newsletter as it was also my uncle’s old school and he was remembered in their assembly on Friday morning:

As a (School) pupil I grew up with my mum continually telling me they should teach in History what the Japanese did to her Uncle Harry when they captured him during WW2. Like many of her generation she had a resentment of anything Japanese and always argued she would never buy anything they manufactured. When asked about her TV, her car, her 'phone, etc. she would deny they were from Japan but just did not realise the impact they made on our modern culture. Furthermore, she would nag us relentlessly about leaving food on our plates and how much Uncle Harry would have welcomed it. I feel ashamed now that we laughed at her for it.
For when my mother died last year, I began compiling my family tree and focused on my two Great Uncles, both ex-pupils of (School), like all of my mother’s family: Maxwell Robertson, who died in WW1; and his younger brother, Henry. I learned that Max left Govan for Gallipoli in 1915 as a teenage boy and lasted 9 days before he was killed. There was no grave but he is remembered with honour on the Helles Memorial in Turkey. I expect this wee boy from (School), an apprentice in the local shipyard, wouldn’t have been able to point out this foreign land on a map before he left to die there.
In researching his brother, Gunner Henry Robertson of the Royal Artillery, 9th Coast Regiment, I discovered he was captured by the Japanese in Singapore and forced to work on constructing the infamous Burma-Thailand Railway and bridge over the River Kwai, dying a horrible death there in 1943. With the help of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, I managed to trace his grave to Thailand and for all of my family who never knew of his last resting place – my great grandparents, my gran, my mother – I vowed to be the first to visit it.
And so, in August this year, I travelled with my husband and daughter to Bangkok and took the 3 hour journey to Kanchanaburi Cemetery armed with my (School) cross made especially by (the Head) and the school to officially recognise Uncle Harry’s sacrifice. It turned out to be the most humble and enlightening journey I have ever made.
Despite feeling it was a pity it was ever there at all, the cemetery itself was one of the most peaceful places I have ever had the fortune to visit: the sun shining brightly, the green grass lush under foot, the fragrant scent of exotic flowers, and the rows and rows of royal blue stones standing like sentinels. The misery and sorrow surrounding the needless deaths of those who rest there disappeared in this garden. Underneath the stones were the heroes who lay resting; one my uncle, far from the Govan shores from whence he came. These gravestones all served as a snapshot in history, a visual reminder of not just a war but of sacrifice and waste. I was informed that the bodies were buried standing up under the memorial stones so as to avoid visitors disrespectfully standing on their graves. A nearby visitor exclaimed horror at this idea, but me? I liked the thought of these heroes forever standing proudly to attention. Nevertheless, I cannot give justice to how I felt as I stood over my uncle’s grave: this was a man I had never met yet I was deeply affected by his life, death and suffering. These moments serve to remind us that life must be cherished. I wept for my uncle and our family but I also grieved for the horrific human tragedy of war.
There is a sign in the cemetery buildings with which some of you may be familiar:
‘When you go home, tell them of us and say we gave our tomorrow for your today.’
I travelled to Kanchanaburi to discover how, where and why my uncle died and was afforded all the answers but I truly focused on the latter. It is called democracy and freedom. I believe that is worth fighting for and all generations must be aware of this so they can guard that freedom with all their might.
As I left the cemetery I wished that the area of Elder Park and Fairfields were his resting grounds instead of this sacred place in Thailand but it is comforting that the War Graves Commission has created and maintained this unblemished cemetery in what is still a remote corner of the world. I regret to think how many times my family wished they had been able to visit his grave, but the organisation is honourably preserving the memory and history of these brave men and I am deeply indebted to them.

Thank you Gunner Robertson . . . Thank you Uncle Harry. May you and your friends rest in eternal peace.
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Re: Remembrance Sunday

Postby Martin » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:23 pm

Very nice Mrs. N, very nice.
I was out and about at 11am and even the pumps in the pub had a sign on saying there would be no drinks served for two minutes at 11am.
The old lad I drink with and I sat outside the pub and observed the two minutes silence and at the end we raised a glass to our own fallen, no matter what conflict they fell in.
It's not much at all, but here's my wee bit....

Here's to the few
And the glory brylcreem boys
Here's to their comrades
The empty places in the mess

Here's to the wives and kids
Who waited for their men
The mums and dads who proudly saw
Their offspring off to war

Here's to our fallen
Who helped to keep us free
They gave us the right today
To raise a glass to them.





Ouch !
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Re: Remembrance Sunday

Postby Govangirl » Sun Nov 11, 2012 6:01 pm

Martin wrote:It's not much at all, but here's my wee bit....





Lovely Martin, thank you :)
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Re: Remembrance Sunday

Postby LANDROVER ROGER » Sun Nov 11, 2012 6:20 pm

Excellent,poignant post GG.Both my Father and Father-in-Law had horrific experiences of WW2 but thankfully emerged physically unscathed.The mental scars will remain hidden as sadly they are no longer with us."All gave some,Some gave All.
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Re: Remembrance Sunday

Postby Martin » Sun Nov 11, 2012 6:47 pm

Not sure how old you are Roger, but when Clive Dunn went this week it got me thinking. Our generation (50 and older) are the last folk with connections to those who fought in Queen Victoria’s army.
I remember a very old man at one of the few family(?) gatherings I attended when very young and being told that an old guy, ( maybe an uncle, I don’t recall exactly) , and how he fought in the Boer War.
When we have gone there will be no direct links left. Shame.

Hope this makes sense.
Ouch !
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Re: Remembrance Sunday

Postby LANDROVER ROGER » Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:59 pm

64 Martin and Lest We Forget.
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Re: Remembrance Sunday

Postby Mzz pasico » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:24 pm

Two of my uncles died in the second world war, both in their twenties. One of them is lying at rest in Trieste in Italy. Both their names are engraved on the towns war memorial. Thank you GG and Martin.
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Re: Remembrance Sunday

Postby numberplease » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:49 pm

My father died in WW2, aged 22, 6 months before I was born, so I never knew him, all I have are photographs. Strangely, my first child was born 21 years to the day after he died.
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Re: Remembrance Sunday

Postby Govangirl » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:17 am

Numberplease, that's very sad, how dreadful for your mother. Mzz pasico, there must be some comfort that they are remembered and honoured on that memorial. X
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Re: Remembrance Sunday

Postby glassblower » Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:28 pm

A couple of weeks ago in the "Down Memory Lane" spot in the Courier my auntie (Ann Viola) sent a picture of my late grandfather James Muir. He (and many others) had a very bad time in both world wars, i have been told many stories about him and it's a pity he died just 6 months after i was born (aged 51) as i would have liked to have met him. Rememberance Sunday is a special day for everyone, remind the young one's and hopefully it will remain that way.
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