RECRUITMENT AND ENLISTMENT DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR - IWM Collection
MCMXIV by Philip Larkin
Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;
And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;
And the countryside not caring
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;
Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.
Interwar period British 'Remembrance Day' poppy which belonged to Colonel Wilson of the Salvation Army.
I find Remembrance Sunday sadder each year. As I take my two minutes silence, not only do I think of those from the World Wars, but those who have fallen since last Remembrance Day. Living in an Army Town only makes the message more poignant and personal. The music played at the Cenotaph such as Heart of Oak by William Boyce, Nimrod by Edward Elgar, Flowers In The Forest and of course The Last Post, never fails to break my heart. They are full of pride, as well as such enormous sadness, and I can only imagine the faces of those brave men getting onto the trains leaving for the front, with no idea what lay before them. Every time.
Despite few now remembering The First World War first hand, a century on, this day triggers the same emotional release. I always see men of that generation to be so stoic, which only upsets me more, knowing the things they've seen. Such emotion for that generation left behind, who forever had the shadows of the sons, fathers, brothers, husbands and comrades that should have come home. Family life shattered forever. A generation of men wiped out, empty chairs at the dinner table, yellowing family photographs over the fireplace.
We will remember them.