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A Remembrance Day reflection…

 

Tomorrow, Friday, we will hold our Remembrance Service which will include the playing of the Last Post and two minutes of silence. We will remember those who died in the two World Wars and those who have died in more recent conflicts as well as those who suffer in body and mind as a result of war today. It is almost 100 years since the guns fell silent along the Western Front and the allies and Germany signed the armistice agreement bringing the war, which took more than 17 million lives, to an end. Because of the time that has passed it can seem so distant and almost irrelevant to our lives today and yet, what we want to share with the children is that it was the sacrifice of these young men, and the subsequent sacrifices of lives in other wars, that has allowed us to enjoy the peace, the democracy and the security which we have in our country today.

Last week our Head of Choral Music Mrs Glynne-Jones, shared with me some extracts from letters she had found in the archives of Godfrey Searle, the Choirmaster whose legacy enabled Reigate St Mary’s Preparatory and Choir School to be formed. Extracts from the two letters can be seen below. They really are quite moving and bring home the fact that these were real youngsters, just like our children, who grew up and went off to war, but never returned. We shared these extracts with Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 at our Hymn Practice this morning and there was a level of respectful solemnity which I know the children will retain during our service tomorrow. I encourage you to take a moment to read these extracts as it will help us as well to really appreciate the sacrifice made by others for our freedom.

An extract from a letter sent to Mr Searle (Superintendent of the Choristers) in February 1915 from George Garton, a former chorister of the choir of St Mary’s, explaining why he would not be able to attend Old Boys’ Day:

‘I am very sorry I cannot be present on Old Boys’ Day at Reigate. I should like very much to be there but it is impossible. All weekend passes are stopped now except very special ones indeed.

We are getting close to the time when we go abroad as we expect to be in France by the end of March. The rumour is about that we are leaving this district for Aldershot about the 20th of this month.’

Just three months later George’s Mother wrote to Godfrey Searle, including in her letter this extract from a letter sent by the Chaplin of 37th Brigade to her.

‘I am indeed sorry to say that George has been killed in action but in a most famous Charge of the Buffs, one that was really heroic – one company after another went up over the parapet in waves and alas were stricken. Nine out of ten officers were killed but it can with truth be said that everyman who took part in that charge knew they would almost certainly be killed – yet never hesitated. Your son was such. I knew him well and knew what an influence for good he was. He helped my colleagues and myself in many ways and was a noble example of a Christian life. He lies with his comrades near Vermelles.’

The final lines of our Act of Remembrance tomorrow includes these words from the book of Romans ….. ‘As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.’ Let us all pray that a lasting peace in this country will continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.

The service is at 8:40am in the church and everyone is invited to join us.

 

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