Sunday, 13 November 2011


There have been many posts this week for remembrance sunday and the poppy.

I have mixed thoughts on the subject.  I always wore a poppy in the UK, and I always stopped the minutes silence at 11am.

But...  My granddad was in WW2 - he lied about his age to get into service and served in the Royal Marines.  It still makes me laugh when I say that too - it was always the Royal Marines - woe behold you should that word be forgotten!  He was extremely proud of the Corps.

And yet...  He would never talk about the war, except for the funny anecdotes - the one that I remember was when he was in a hut in the forest somewhere in Asia with a group of Royal Marines and a local guide.  They saw a spider on the wall, and they all got a bit worried :)  The local guide calmly walked over and pinned the spider to the wall with a large knife, turned to the commandos and said, 'Don't worry about those spiders, they won't hurt you.  It's the ones you can't see that'll kill you.'  I always liked the imagery of the commandos being scared of the spider and the guide being the one to calmly deal with the situation.

He never said anything about what he did during the war.  Refused to talk about any of the bad things that he had seen (or the bad things that he did).  Whenever there was a program where someone was glorifying war he always commented, almost always the same sentence, 'Anyone who says these things never saw what goes on in war.'  He hated it, and as proud as he was of serving in the Royal Marines I think that he always regretted his decision to lie about his age.  He was vehemently against war, and anything that tried to glorify it.

He also never liked remembrance day.  I asked his about it once, he simply said it reminds him too much of what he saw, and those he will never see again.  It was quite sad, and not something that I brought up again.

I can wear the poppy to support the British Legion working with ex-service men and women, but what about the other reasons.  I am wearing it to bring remembrance to something that the only person I knew who served didn't want to remember.  Since the day he spoke to me about why he didn't take part in Remembrance Sunday it has made it difficult for me to not to think of it.



  1. I remember watching a programme a few years ago featuring some celeb du jour and during that, he mentioned his dad. Celeb's Dad - like your granddad - had gone to fight in the war. The star went on to say that his Dad's war buddies would come to visit and they'd joke and laugh about everything.... everything except what they did in battle. That was never mentioned.

    A long time ago, my folks took my sister, me and my Dad's parents to France. It was so my Gran could visit the war graves. My memory struggles to recall the facts, but I do remember the emotion. The serenity of the white stone crosses, the lush countryside and my Gran's reaction. She kept it all in, stoic, is that the word?

    I do wear a poppy and I do put money in the collection tins. I take part in the silence out of respect. Not everyone who goes to fight, does so, so willingly.

  2. Thanks for that Lynn, very nicely put.

    I'm ashamed to say that since moving to Holland I struggle with the silence. However, I do take part in the 4th May silence that they have in here.