Remembrance Day special
Remembrance Day special
‘They fought. Not for recognition, not for fame, but for this country.’
Meaning of the red flower In Flanders Fields In Flanders fields the poppies blow
A nation gathers to remember a generation lost to war
That mark our place; and in the sky
By Agnes Teh
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Between the crosses, row on row,
ears mixed with rain on Sunday morning at Barkers Pool. On this day, young men in biker jackets, mothers with babies by their hips, husbands and wives, and brothers and sisters stood on the wet tarmac as the rain caught their mood. It was Remembrance Sunday. On this day the same hundreds of men who made up a fresh-faced wide-eyed military force from Great Britain decades ago stood across the country, like this one in Sheffield, to remember the lives of their fellow comrades who perished in wars past. Minutes earlier, a crowd had greeted the veterans with applause and cheers as they marched down Division Street to a military band. One of the first to cheer the troops on as they marched was property service maintenance man, Paul Holmes, 51. “Days like these make you proud to be English,” Mr Holmes said, “and remind you of what it is to be English.” “England is what she is today because of our past. These men… we owe a lot to,” he said, pointing to the servicemen as they walked on. With him was friend and company director, Michael Andrews, 51. The day was all the more significant for him because both his father and grandfather had served in the war. For him, it was
Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Why Nov 11?
Ninety years ago, the guns at the Western Front fell silent on 11 November 1918. That was the time the allied armies successfully drove the Germans back. In total, that war left some 25 million dead on its battlefields, and six million in its concentration camps.
Why the Poppy?
Hundreds of ex-servicemen and war veterans gathered to commemorate this day
Veterans line up for Sheffield’s parade
Prayer cards left for a fallen soldier veterans took turns to lay wreaths - I just don’t know how they do it. at the memorial as the parade It’s a terrible sensation to shoot a marched past. man… but something you just had One such war veteran was former to do,” he said, his voice fading. Private John Hulse, now aged 85, If anyone is caught up in the allure who had fought in the jungles of of war, Hulse will be first to set Burma when he was just 18. them straight. “I never thought to be there but I “War is nothing to be proud of, I was.” said Hulse. seriously mean that. It’s just not He remembers atrocities of the war right. When you know you’re killing as if it were “yesterday”, recalling somebody else’s son. It’s too terrible the time he had to kill a young to think about.” Japanese solder. For Sergeant Adam Booth, 19, “People who can kill one another being in parade was extra special.
Stories from the War the taps on while he was out. “I would come home to see the entire house flooded…we had to change the taps to one of those auto ones,” he said, his eyes cringing into a painful frown. Memories are all over the walls - wedding pictures and family portraits of the old couple.
A young Frank Yates, circa 1944
A reminder to live by
‘Days like these make you proud to be English England is what she is today because of our past. These men… we owe a lot to.’ Paul Holmes
How the battle for s’Hertogenbosch begun
Frank Yates (Royal Artillary, Anti-Aircraft division, s’Hertogenbousch)
Frank Yates, moment before ceremony at Barkers Pool
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. — Lt.-Col. John McCrae
Remembrance day celebrations around the world
“my way of honouring them and many others.” “Unquestionably our men have done it. Unquestionably they’ve fought the war. Not for recognition, not for fame, but for this country.” The parade began as soon as the maroon which signaled two minutes of silence shook the city. As the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Jane Bird, led the city in the procession, another maroon boomed through the city as officers on parade, ex-servicemen and war
It was eight years ago that he used to paint on glass and make head lamps and portraits out of them. These days, Frank Yates watches football on TV on Sundays and, if he can manage, drives in his blue Toyota to the city centre to his favourite café at the Millennium Gallery, where he sips English tea and heads home before the sky turns dark. “I had a cataract a few months ago but after the operation, I can now see great and drive OK,” said the 87-year-old war veteran. He lives in a humble house in a suburban cul-de-sac. His wife passed away eight years ago after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for five years. Mr Yates took care of her throughout. “These stairs,” he said, standing at the bottom of a steep flight of stairs, “she used to fall down all the time.” He remembers how she would leave
The poppy quickly became a popular symbol for soldiers who died in battle after John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields in 1915. During the bombardments of WWI, chalk soils became rich in lime from the rubble, allowing poppies to grow. The Canadians were the first to wear the little red plant in 1921.
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
It is hard to believe that 64 years ago, Frank had helped liberate a little city called s’Hertogenbosch in 1944 in Holland (see sidebar). He recalls with fond memories how maps of South Yorkshire titled “Sheffield Und Barnsley” were stacked up in a map store in the city’s town hall after the liberation. Pride is written all over his face as he recalls his visit back to the city five years ago where he was reunited with the ‘sHertogenbosch shield and some twenty other friends from the war. “I am not a very emotional person but when I saw it… tears just came to my eyes.” On one night out in s’herstogenbosch, Frank was in a queue when “an attractive blonde” called out to him: “My liberator!” She proceeded to “hug and kiss [me] for what seemed like hours!”
“The battle began at 0.630 hrs on CT. 22nd with a massive artillery barrage. It was hoped that the operation would take two days, but the destruction of dozens of bridges and the widespread laying of minefields stretched to a reality of six days.
I drove down to the corner and parked, knowing that the bridge was about 20 yards round the corner and exposed to German observation.
As I was wondering what to do, a Dutchman, with a little boy holding his hand, came on the scene, The General out for a stroll. and I were Two bullets Soliders arrive in ricocheted off discussing s’Hertogenbousch the wall, over progress over the large scale map of the town our heads, and centre. And as I happened to be as he seemed oblivious of any in the firing line, they turned to danger, I shouted at him things me and with fingers on the most like “Scram, Vamoose, Allez and southerly moat bridge, told me Bugger Off.” He got the message to find out whether it was blown and led his offspring away!” or not.
Wreathes of poppies are laid out
‘These people gave up their lives. In return they (youths today) can then learn to respect themselves.’
Ceremony held at the City Center Old comrades gather to reminiscence With his friends serving in and her five other siblings. “Kids today should never forget Iraq and Afghanistan, it was “Those were hard times where this day and what their fathers “something very real.” we had to move from shelter and grandfathers did to get them “Walking down the parade, it to shelter,” said Mrs Bennett to this day,” she said. was hard to get that out of my who was there with her son and “These people gave up their lives. mind. Every day there are people granddaughter. “We did not know It’s important to respect what fighting for this country. In this what tomorrow would bring.” others have done for them. past and in the present, this is our Christine Hennessey, 60, was “In return they can then learn to way of showing respect.” also one of the many who came respect themselves.” One such person to show respect by to look at the wreaths on the was Shirley Bennett, 70. She was memorial after the ceremony. Readers can leave their tributes on just five when her father left She said it was important for the www.sheffieldcity.com/remboard. Check for the war, leaving behind her young people of today to know out a video of the ceremony on mother who had to look after her about the past. www.sheffieldcity.com/remembrance
Veteran Spotlight John Hulse (Burma campaign in World War II) “I was enlisted in June 1942 when I was 18. We trained for six months before we went abroad. As part of our training we ran 265 miles in our armour all around East Anglia. And then we went to Arakan, near Burma. We just went down on our haversack and a gun and that’s all we got. That’s all we had to defend ourselves. After we got there, we were blocked off. We could get nothing in, nothing out. Food was dropped off by plane and unfortunately it dropped in the lines of the Japanese and they got our food. John Hulse, with daughter and wife
The first sign of life was after a month when two small thin tanks got down on a tiny side pass. On this pass, the Burma soldiers then killed our doctors. We survived on biscuits for a month… anything that we could find from the jungle even. The monsoon started September and it finished in February. It pours down at night…we were absolutely drenched and freezing and we were just living under the trees… no covers, we haven’t got any! I saw people die, my own pal. I saw him shot by the Japs. It was terrible to see that.”