Armistice Day Remembered

At our evening meeting on the 12th November, we held a special event to remind us all of the sacrifices and conditions that our servicemen endured during the Great War. A compendium of letters home and reminiscences about the war had been assembled and turned into a story that followed the wartime events.
Helen took the part of the narrator and George, Terry, Tom, Brian and Andy took it in turns to read extracts from the letters.  We were fortunate that Andy was able to read from his Grandfather’s diary—an illicit book that he kept throughout the war.
We heard of a cavalry charge in the opening days of the war together with harrowing accounts of the German
shelling—the Jack Johnson’s**.  There were accounts of the first gas attacks by the Germans for which the British were unprepared with no gasmasks—they used woollen mufflers instead—although proper gasmasks were available later. There were accounts of stretcher bearers being shot at by snipers and of the heavy losses suffered by advancing troops.

groupThere was an account of the joy of a spell out of the front line where the soldiers were able to bathe in the local duckpond and slept in the straw in a barn relieved to be out of the mud and shelling. We heard about the arrival of tanks and the demoralising effect is had on the Germans who initially had no counter measures. Brief extracts told of the war in other places. Gallipoli, Uganda, Mesopotamia and Russia were all mentioned.

Helen was a superb narrator and introduced several songs from the period and we all joined in to the well known words. The evening was rounded off by a prayer for the fallen and peace.

** Black German 15-cm artillery shell.  Called after the then current American Jack Johnson who was the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion.