31 October 2009

Whom are we not remembering with our poppies?

As the son of a farmer, with two grandfathers who were also farmers, I wear a poppy with a slight sense of unease. Our family was, to say the least, a bit short on relatives who fought in either of the two world wars, let alone who died in them.

This was because those in 'reserved' occupations didn't have to go to war, although my paternal grandfather used to grumble about having had to hand over some of his horses for military duty in WW1.

But there were others working in occupations no less harrowing and no less dangerous than those in the armed services.

The father of a primary school friend of mine was in the London fire brigade throughout the blitz. Also in London at the same time was one of my father's cousins, a Quaker and conscientious objector, who drove an ambulance to and from bomb sites.

Although both of them survived (though not without scars), there must have been many of their colleagues in the rescue services who did not.

But, like those who 'were digging for victory' and countless others on whom the war effort depended, they never get a mention on remembrance Sunday.

Shouldn't we be remembering them too?


dreamingspire said...

My father was drafted into not the armed services (medically unfit) but the civil service, and sent down to London to work. Like so many of those who were on 'active service', he never talked about it, but we have letters that he wrote home - and at the end of the war he had a nervous breakdown. He would have known those in civilian jobs who did not survive.

Max Atkinson said...

Thanks for this, because that is exactly the point I was making. Last year, my brother raised the issue with his local vicar after the service on Remembrance Sunday, and was given very short shrift about it!

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