Provided by Jim Pearce – Congregational Worship Leader
Reflections on Remembrance
As the leaves turn brown and the seasons turn it is interesting to reflect on the coming of Remembrance Sunday. For our grandparent’s generation this was a very important celebration.
In December 1918 women crowded the docks at Hull, Dover and Leith with cards, have you seen this man.
At that time nearly half a million British and Imperial soldiers were unaccounted for.
In 1917 the Imperial War Graves Commission was founded by the journalist Fabian Ware. He was incensed to find that the body of William Gladstone was exhumed from a grave in the Ypres salient and reburied at the family plot in Hawarden in North Wales. He was the grandson of the former Prime Minister-mainly famous for saving fallen ladies!
Ware decided that if this practice of exhuming graves of the titled and wealthy was allowed to continue the rich bereaved would take their dead home and graveyards on the continent would become ghettoes of the poor.
Ware forced through the standardisation of identical white gravestones spaced evenly with precise paths between rows. Rudyard Kipling came up with the inscriptions “Their name liveth for evermore” and “A soldier of the Great War known unto God”. Because of his foresight the war graves throughout the world are places of beauty and suitable for quiet reflection.
In the 1920s war cemeteries became a place of pilgrimage.
A lady Emily Causton made a regular visit to the grave of her fiancé, on the anniversary of his death. He was killed at Passchendaele in 1917. On her visits she would often encounter a German – Hans Klutzen – who visited the same grave on the same date. As the years passed they discovered common interests. In 1932 Klutzen confessed that he had bayonetted her lost love in hand to hand fighting in the trenches. He had felt guilt and sadness ever since which is why he made the trip from Germany to Northern France every year.
Emily Causton and Hans Klutzen were married later in 1932 and she was convinced that her late fiancé would have approved since soldiers of the war shared a commonality as “victims of circumstance”.
This must be the purest form of remembrance, an emotion unsullied by politics or animosity.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.