Tag Archives: remembrance sunday

Senior Liberal Democrats mark 100th anniversary of the Armistice

As acts of remembrance take place in communities the length and breadth of the country, our senior people have said what the day means to them:

Willie Rennie said:

Today we mark a huge milestone of remembrance. We remember and honour those who fought for freedom and gave their lives to keep us safe, in the First World War and since.

100 years on it’s important to take time to reflect on the sacrifice of both those who fought bravely abroad and the men and women who kept life going on the home front.

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William Wallace writes….Britain’s security depends on our co-operation with others

Remembering the First World War is a very immediate emotion for me.  I was the youngest child of a late family.  My father had been born in 1899.  He joined up in mid-1917, and went out in a reinforcement draft to the Highland Division on the Western front in late March 1918, just as the great German attack got under way.  As others died and he survived he rapidly rose from lance-corporal to staff sergeant.  When at last in his 80s he began to talk about his experiences, he told me that at one point he was second in command of the remnants of his battalion, since only one officer was left.  When he told me what he had been through, I wondered if he was exaggerating.  Now that I have read the histories of the Highland Division and of the Gordon Highlanders in the First World War, and checked the place-names he gave me against these records, I know that it was as awful as he said.

But I want to focus on how well we have commemorated the centenary of the first global war, and what lessons we should take from this for the approach to future commemorations, including those for the centenary of the Second World War in 20 years’ time.  I was on the government’s Advisory Group for the Commemoration of World War One from the beginning.  I saw the early exchanges in Whitehall about the approach to take, and I was the first British minister to talk to the German foreign office about how we might work with them to remember together

History, as we all know, is a constant battle over preferred narratives.  As a nation, the British are deeply divided, even confused, about which historical narratives we prefer.  I recall seeing an early memorandum to the then-Prime Minister, in  – it must have been – 2012 which stated that ‘we must ensure, in our approach to the commemoration of World War One, that we do not give support to the myth that European integration is the outcome of the two world wars.’   

The stated purpose of the UK Government’s approach to commemoration of the centenary was educational.  We achieved that aim in engaging our younger generations in discovering the histories of their local communities, and the impact of the loss of life on families throughout Britain.  We have done very well in symbolizing reconciliation with Germany, from the 2014 shared ceremony in St. Symphorien and the shared concerts with the Bundestag Choir in Westminster Hall to the participation of President Steinmeier in the ceremonies of next weekend.  But we have failed in educating them about the wider context of the war, of the extent to which British forces depended on the contributions of allies and of imperial troops.

I recall entering a bookshop in the Yorkshire Dales two years ago, one as well-stocked with volumes on the two world wars as on steam trains and Yorkshire traditions, to find the owner arguing with a visitor about Brexit.  ‘After all, we beat the Germans in two world wars’, he said.  That is, after all, one of the widely-held counter-myths of British history, one propounded by Margaret Thatcher among many others: that Britain stood alone, in two world wars.   I tentatively answered that we’d had a lot of help from others, most of all from the Americans, in both wars – to be challenged that so far as he knew the Americans had not been involved in World War One.

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For Remembrance Sunday

Charles Homer Bosworth was my great grandfather. He lived in Codford in Wiltshire. Born in 1888, he served in the First World War and gets a mention in the Codford Roll of Honour:

Charles Homer Bosworth served in the British Army during World War 1 and spent time in Russia as part of his service.

Until a couple of months ago, that was as much as my sister and I and our cousins knew about his first World War Service. Then we got in touch with our Dad’s cousin in the US and he was able to tell us some more details. Apparently, Charles’ time in Russia involved being captured by the Bolsheviks and held in a cattle train car. Thankfully, he and his colleagues managed to escape, otherwise I would not be here today.

Charles Homer Bosworth continued to serve this country, joining the RAF. By the time World War 2 broke out, he was 51 years old and could have retired. Just two weeks in, he was one of 519 people killed after HMS Courageous was torpedoed off the course of Ireland.

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We will remember them

Three years ago, 888,246 ceramic poppies were placed around the Tower of London. You can read my account of my visit to see them here. 

I found the whole thing incredibly moving and actually distressing in places. I think seeing each individual poppy and realising it meant a life, like my son’s, really hit home.

I can only imagine what it must have been like as the family back home, waiting to hear news of your loved one and hoping that the next knock at the door brought a handwritten letter from them and not a telegram.

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LibLink: William Wallace highlights the roles of others in World War II

In yesterday’s Independent, William Wallace took the opportunity to remind Conservatives that Remembrance Sunday is not just about the British repelling our enemies in two world wars, it’s about Commonwealth troops, about those from Occupied Europe who fought under British colours, and those who supported us with troops, weapons and other fighting equipment.

He notes how this is part of a pattern of Conservative thinking, downplaying our interdependence;

Conservative ministers have determinedly resisted giving publicity to British military cooperation. Liam Fox suppressed information on the extent of Franco-British defence joint operations, and would

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Liberal Democrats mark Remembrance Sunday

Individual poppiesLiberal Democrats from across the UK have been marking Remembrance Sunday.

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The Last Post

As we approach the end of Armistice Day, it is, perhaps, appropriate to remember the tune most associated with military memorials, The Last Post.

The BBC produce some superb radio documentaries. They have surpassed themselves with “The Last Post” presented by Alwyn W Turner. It tells the story of the tune and describes its extraordinarily wide use, often at national and international occasions and including at the funerals of Sir Winston Churchill and IRA man Bobby Sands. He also mentions the American equivalent, “Taps”, which was played at the funeral of John F Kennedy.

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Tim Farron and Lib Dems mark Remembrance Sunday

As always on the Sunday closest to November 11th, the anniversary of the Armistice in the First World War, the country stops to remember those who have been killed in conflict.

Here are how senior Liberal Democrats are marking the occasion.

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Gallipoli – bloody, pivotal point in history

The photo montage above, from Getty Images, shows Suvla Bay during the campaigning in the First World War, alongside the present-day scene there

As we approach Remembrance Sunday, my thoughts this year are particularly focussed on the Gallipoli campaign. We’re at the one hundredth anniversary of that invasion attempt, which took place from April 25th 1915 to January 9th 1916.

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For Remembrance Sunday – my visit to the Tower of London poppies

Poppies through BridgeLast Monday I was down in London for a meeting and had an hour spare to nip down to the Tower of London to see the poppy installation where 888,246 ceramic poppies have been laid out in an act of remembrance for all those who died in the First World War.

I found it incredibly moving. The atmosphere was one of humble quiet reflection. You know when you normally go to things, people can be pushing and shoving and trying to get the best view. Actually, here, everyone was respectful, giving each other space, despite the massive crowds.

I think what got me more than anything was seeing that this huge sea of red, made up of individual stems, symbolised one part of one side who lost their lives in the First World War.

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How Liberal Democrats around the country are marking Remembrance Sunday

Here’s a flavour of how  Liberal Democrats are marking Remembrance Sunday, some in an official capacity, others on their blogs. I suggest you put on Elgar’s Cello concerto as recommended by Armour Plated Liberalism and have a look at the following:

Tim Farron spent yesterday selling poppies in bad weather:

Jo Swinson tweeted from a service in Bearsden

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Nick Clegg’s message for Remembrance Day 2013

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MPs under attack again – for claiming mileage for doing their jobs

Having Nigel Farage on Question Time again was more than enough to make my blood boil last night. Sadly, even my Facebook timeline had little to soothe. I saw an 18 month old story being recycled again to give MPs another kicking.

In May last year the Telegraph had a go at some MPs who claimed mileage to attend Remembrance Day services, including a couple of Liberal Democrats. Why on earth should that particular engagement be any different than any other that they attend in the course of their official duties? How many people would meet work expenses out of …

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Michael Moore’s Westminster Notes

Every week Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here’s this week’s edition.

Mobile phone coverage

Mobile phone service ‘not spots’ across my constituency remain a huge frustration for local people and have a serious knock-on effect for businesses and Borderers going about their daily lives. As local MP, I have been working for many years to tackle this issue and I have welcomed the UK Government’s commitment, through the Mobile Infrastructure Project, to invest £150million to improve mobile phone signal in rural areas and on key transport routes.

Last week I …

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    The sentence that reads "However, it has its" should read "However, it has its own food bank".
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