Sunday, November 9, 2014

We Will Remember Them

I attended the Remembrance Sunday memorial ceremony in Topsham in 2014.  From this small village of about 5,000, 69 men died in the First World War.  (Here's a link to their names and details—the Trout family alone suffered the death of two brothers and their cousin).  Nearly every family in the United Kingdom has a relative, whether grandfather or great uncle who was killed or injured during the Great War. 

At every Remembrance ceremony, “The Last Post” is played by a bugler, the fourth verse of Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen” is read, and all in attendance repeat, “We will remember them.”  

For the Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
     --Laurence Binyon

The poem was first published in the London Times on September 21, 1914.  


  1. Replies
    1. The first two photos are from Topsham; the last is of Tyne Cot in Belgium (the largest number of burials of any Commonwealth cemetery of either the first or second World War).

    2. Of the 12,000 headstones, about 8,000 - a sobering three quarters - carry the simple inscription 'A soldier of the Great War. Known unto God'.
      Another one says: 'Loved, beyond death, by your wife and two babies'.
      And yet another one: 'Sacrificed to the fallacy that war could end war'.

      The names of another 35,000 wartime casualties with no known grave are to be found on the slabs in the apse of Tyne Cot. The names belong to the unidentified soldiers fallen after 15th August 1917, for whose names there was no more space on the slabs of The Menin Gate.

      Best, from Flanders Fields
      Chris S.

    3. Sobering statistics, heart-breaking inscriptions. Thanks for sharing, Chris.