Post Departure Blues

It's been a funny old week. Seems most of my friends have jumped whole-heatedly into the Remembrance Day commemorations, which is good for them. For me, there are two things that always pop into my mind this time of year, The Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey and the fact that in the last thousand years of British history, my father's generation is possibly the only that has not been called upon by old men to fight their wars for them.

Growing up the "warmonger" I have, it's never been far from my mind, the books I read, the films I watch etc. But, that all changed one wet summer's afternoon while I stood with my family at Hautot-Sur-Mer, overlooking what was called, one August morning in 1942, Green Beach. Here are buried 769 young men who's lives were cut short in one of the bloodiest botched operations of the War. looking over this sea of white head stones, your faced with the realisation that at 20, I had lived longer than most of the residents of this small part of Canada. Even the Idiot was shocked by what he saw. Growing up as a Canadian, our history is defined by three names; Vimy, Dieppe and Hockey. The later being war over 60 minutes and the former two being the birth and baptism of fire of my young nation. Walking down those aisles of white stone and seeing the many members of Winnipeg regiments where my grandfather was from and a Conscientious Objector, due to his faith. My grandmother had three cousins killed after the fall of Hong Kong, so I guess I owe my life to Papa Jack's faith in Jehovah. But seeing crews of bombers grouped together, the mass of boys "Known unto God", the warmonger-ish tenancies started to slip away and any focus, if you can call it that pushed towards the men that were set to do a politicians bidding.

So when I read the story behind the Unknown Warrior the other day, this sentiment returned. You see the funeral of the Unknown Warrior in 1920, was one of the greatest outpouring of public grief not seen again until Diana's funeral 70-odd year later. But it's not the poor sod that buried in the Abbey that's on my mind. You see, when General L.J. Wyatt returned to France to select the solider to be reburied in London. Wyatt walked into a hut near St Pol, which is near Ypres, and was confronted with four dead soldiers wrapped in sacks and covered with Union Jacks. Wyatt walked up, touched one of the flags and left. The Unknown Warrior was chosen. The kicker is what happened next. The "Lucky Winner" received a state funeral, buried in a bespoke coffin and with a sword present to him by the King Himself. The other three? The undertakers removed the flags, loaded the bodies onto a truck, driven to a local shell hole outside of Albert, and dumped in and promptly forgotten. That, I'm very sorry to say, sums it all up for me. as touching as it is seeing the Last Tommy's wreath being laid on the Cenotaph by Johnson Beharry, the last man to win the V.C., nothing is mentioned about the 3,000 Americans casualties who went over the top at 10:50am on 11 November 1918, to prove a point by Pershing. Who know what that point was, but it happened and I suppose Pershing made the point that Generals are idiots.

So that's been on my mind. Couple that with having to leave for Oz 3 days earlier than I thought and Ellie not wanting me to leave her, I'm really not in the mood. I've had the little one for Friday night and we had tons of fun. She worked with just about everyone on the ministry this morning and it is sooo easy handing out the campaign leaflet when its being presented by her, that's my excuse anyways! But I do believe the novelty of world travel has officially worn off. I really miss my little girl and just being around my friends, well the few people who can put up with me anyways! But, it just seems more effort than it used too. It could just be I'm going to miss racing Ellie to the doorbell or waking up to rain, proper rain dammit! English rain! The only type of rain worth being rain upon. But hey, money needs to be earned and I have the rest of December off when I get home so me and my Princess will have to paint the town purpley-pink. I can't wait.

Matthew BoneComment