16 000 000 people died during World War 1, which was the bloodiest conflict the planet had ever seen. Although even more human beings lost their lives in World War 2 (70 million souls perished in that conflict) the sophistication of weaponry and the brutal hand to hand fighting of the First World War forever left an impression on mankind.
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War 1 officially came to an end by the signing of the Armistice between Germany and the Allies. Europe was in tatters and the rebuilding of countries and individual lives had to begin.
Around the World, 11 November became known as Remembrance Day or Poppy day, which refers to the numerous red poppies that grew on the battlefields of World War 1, their brilliant red colour an appropriate symbol of the blood spilt during the war.
John Mc Crea wrote a poem about the battles at Flanders in Belgium that took so many lives.
“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
Sadly Poppy Day is scarcely remembered nowadays. Gone are the times when school children all over the World would wear plastic poppies in honour of those who gave their lives to fight for a free world.
A wreath was laid and a memorial service was held on Sunday morning in Jeffreys Bay by the MOTHS to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for mankind. There is one veteran from the battle of El Alamein who is still alive in Jeffreys Bay at age of 96.
As time passes and memories fade, let’s hope and pray that the World does not repeat the mistakes of the past and does not forget the lessons learnt from the generation that shed their blood to halt tyranny in its tracks.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We shall remember Them”