By Jackie Adams
The Armistice Day commemoration was held at West Bromwich Central Library on the 11th November 2016.
This year was of particular significance due to 2016 being the 100 years anniversary of The Battle of the Somme.
The commemoration was attended by Staff Sergeant Alan Cupples – who is with the 202 Regiment Field Hospital, an army reserve unit, based in Kings Heath, Birmingham – and Officer Cadet Francis Parkes – who is training to be a nurse at the 202 Regiment Field Hospital. When she is a qualified nurse, she will be deployed anywhere in the world.
Seeing Staff Sergeant Cupples and Officer Cadet Parkes in their khaki uniforms brought home a realisation of the duties and the sacrifice – the flower of youth of a lost generation.
There were readings of poems. Yvonne Furnell, the lady who organised the commemoration, introduced her daughter, Elizabeth, who read a poem about the First World War. Officer Cadet Parkes read ‘We Will Remember Them’, and Staff Sergeant Cupples read another World War One poem.
We – the Oldbury Writing Group – read poems and stories from our World War Two anthology titled ‘From Sunrise to Sunset’. Angela L. Garratt read ‘Poppies’, Jackie Adams read ‘To Susan Grace’, Percy Eamus read ‘An Alternative’, Nicole Simms read ‘The Women of the War’, Andrew Lines read ‘Here Before’, and Bally read her poem ‘Remembrance Day’. Then at 11 o’clock we observed the two minutes’ silence.
After the two minutes’ silence, poppies, the traditional paper, the knitted woollen, and the refreshments were selling fast. Collecting tins jangled all raising funds for The Legion – the popular name for the Royal British Legion.
Armistice Day 2016 had been observed around the world. In the African country of Lesotho, where they struggled to pay for two squadrons of 24 Spitfires to help Britain in the war, they now have a replica Spitfire near the war memorial in Lesotho, which lists the names of over 1,000 war dead – Lesotho is only a tiny country.
Prince Harry laid a wreath at the National Memorial in Staffordshire. And in the commonwealth countries from New Zealand and Australia to Canada, the Caribbean, Africa, India and Asia, the Pacific, and the smaller islands all honoured Armistice Day. The Gurkhas, the Irish, the Welsh, the Scottish, and in Europe ceremonies were held.
On Armistice Day, we remember the dead, and the wounded on all sides. We remember the children who suffer the most in war, and we remember the sufferings of the million horses lost in World War One, the carrier pigeons, and the dogs serving in recent conflicts. We remember the almost forgotten millions who died after Armistice Day 1918 – of the Spanish Flu, around the world, more people died from the Spanish flu than in the fighting. And on Armistice Day we remember peace.