remembrance-day-walking-wounded
Meditation and Reflection

Remembrance Day: there’s a long, long trail a-winding..

A long trail of prophets and dark prophecies precedes the apocalypse. When you’re dead, you don’t care. When you’re partly living with no eyes, one leg and half a mind, there’s not much comfort in remembrance. Much better to forget. Or try to. It’s all a bit grim, really. You can sink into compensatory fantasies of Eden, or meditate on assurances of divine intervention. When faith in humanity has gone, you’re left with the eternal kingdom of God or an eternity of rotting in compost. That’s the choice.

They fought for justice, freedom and peace. They still do, in allegories of eschatological perfection. A destabilised world still groans, and perhaps it always will – at least until the promised return. Until then, we have remembrance. Or forgetfulness. It’s not a contradiction: truth can be symbol; a word can be spiritual.

But evil cannot be good. We can try until the end of time to restrain violence and injustice with the eyes, legs and minds of young men and women. They’ll bear their suffering for the cameras, and stoically wheel themselves up to stone crosses to place their wreathes of poppies in remembrance. But they’d much rather forget. Aren’t beautiful thoughts far better than dark and bloody memories of being tortured by the Antichrist?

Wars and rumours of wars, nation rising against nation, betrayals, hatreds, false prophets, iniquity abiding, and love waxing cold. It’s a long, long trail of sin and bloody massacre. We don’t learn, do we?

Jesus can’t be far off.

Perhaps he is already here.

  • Martin

    Why would anyone have faith in humanity? Much better by far to have faith in the God who has rescued humanity than the fallen, evil creature.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Of all the forms that human suffering takes, war stands out as one that is entirely man-made. It’s the most toxic fruit of our fallen nature and yet it tends to remain the plaything of politicians. We should remember because we all share in that fallen nature. We destroy people in our thoughts and words, if not with our hands. Maybe remembrance day should be as much a time for individual reflection on our own failings as a time to remember those fallen in conflict.

    • dexey

      We surely have a duty to fight against evil tyrannies that would demolish our culture and enslave our people? If our politicians didn’t provide the lead, and they have been a spineless lot in the West these few past decades, others would rise to lead, I would hope.

      • len

        The opposition say exactly the same thing.

      • Politically__Incorrect

        I think that a conflict like WW2 was a legitimate act of self-defence and defence of liberty in Western Europe. I cannot say the same thing about Iraq or Libya where the was no element of self-defence; just a desire for regime change and trying re-engineer a political system because we don’t like it and because those nations can’t fight back. I believe we should get out of the habit of taking sides in other people’s civil wars. The evidence is that it only makes matters worse.

        • carl jacobs

          I cannot say the same thing about Iraq or Libya where the was no element of self-defence

          There may have been no element of self-defense for Europe, since European self-defense consists of hiding behind the US. The US however had a significant interest in Iraq that was well worth the war.

          • Politically__Incorrect

            “he US however had a significant interest in Iraq that was well worth the war.”

            Please enlighten us Carl

  • len

    Lets honour the bravery of the men who kept on knowing that their chances of survival were next to nothing not the people who put the men in that impossible position or the arms dealers who supplied the ability for killing on an industrial scale never witnessed before in human conflict.

    • carl jacobs

      not the people who put the men in that impossible position

      They were put in that position to keep Britain from being submerged in a German tide. Should those “people” not have done so.

      or the arms dealers

      Ah, those heartless merchants of death. Of course, they were heros when they were rolling out Spitfires, weren’t they. Or would you have rather fought the Battle of Britain with Fairey Battles?

      Oh, but wait. Those merchants of death also built the tank which broke the stalemate on the Western front.

      War is not so simple as evil men sending good men to die. You do the soldier no honor when you empty his fight of meaning. That is why Vietnam is so bitter for those of us with a personal connection to the war.

      • len

        To know that as soon as you stand up in the trench you will be shot is not’ an impossible position but you still do it .You do not understand this?.
        You do not seem to understand this simple fact…but .
        those’ merchants of death’ the arms dealers(not the arms manufacturers) seem to hold your respect though? . What an upside down world you seem to live in?.

        • carl jacobs

          You have an amazing capacity to avoid answering the questions put to you.

          I said nothing about the soldier in the trench. I objected to your preening about politicians and “arms dealers” – who are evidently totally different from arms manufacturers even if no one knows how.

          I said I understand what its like to deal with the aftermath of a war that is evacuated of meaning. There is in my family a very personal connection to Vietnam War. There is no temporal answer for us to the question “What did it matter?” That is not true of the men who fought in WWI. Do not demean what they suffered by saying it was all the fault of callous politicians and malignant arms “dealers.” That isn’t why the war was fought.

          • len

            You have an amazing capacity to misunderstand the simplest of statements…

          • dexey

            “You do the soldier no honor when you empty his fight of meaning.”
            You are never going to make a man who hasn’t served his country in uniform understand, I’m afraid.

          • len

            How does the pointless death of a soldier help anyone?.
            There must be some objective or the whole things meaningless.

          • Dreadnaught

            Just hold your horses there Kimosabe – meaningless? I think you must have had something like this in mind; but you know military reality isn’t quite so crass as you suggest.

          • len

            I cannot understand some military decisions and probably never will.
            ‘The charge of the Light Brigade’, heroic action or just throwing away lives?.
            ‘Pickets Charge’ at Gettysburg, doomed to failure before it was even started.

            The Somme, men mowed down in a hail of bullets some before they have moved few yards from their trenches. And many, many, more.

            I do not underestimate the courage of these men only the pointless way their lives were lost.
            Apparently it is ‘a bad thing’ to mention this though according to’ Carl Jacobs’.

            I am all for defending ones Country’ the Battle of Britain’ a heroic action defending ones country from invasion, there was no option but to fight and some very brave men did fight and many paid the price of doing so with their lives.

            But life is to precious to lose it in badly planned actions.

          • dexey

            “But life is to precious to lose it in badly planned actions.” … and how do you know that it is badly planned until it is executed?
            The Battle of Britain was a battle. It was a series of actions. Some were heroic and some, no doubt, were mundane and less than heroic.

          • len

            ‘and how do you know that it is badly planned until it is executed?’
            Intelligence weighing up the odds.

          • Inspector General

            As a Briton, you should know that the Charge of the Light Brigade was a communications error…

          • len

            Yes as were many other errors with resulted in huge loss of life.

          • Dreadnaught

            I don’t see that you can sit in judgement without being in the position of the decision takers. Every commander is aware that deaths and casualties are inevitable especially in pursuit of wider objectives. The ultimate objective is to overcome and thereby remove the greater threat to the nation state by defeating of an ‘enemy’ that will condemn unknown numbers of civillians to death or enslavement and destruction of your freedom.
            Making emotional claims based on individual fortunes or misfortunes is easy, but if say an Islamic force is about to overthow of your country your Government would have a choice – capitulate or fight.
            You are the PM – what will you do? You have to look at it as realistically as this before pointing the finger with the benefit of hindsight.

          • len

            There is a great difference between going off in a gung -ho do or die war of attrition or a measured intelligent response to a threat.

            Air Chief-Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding refused to commit any more fighters to the Battle of France as he needed fighters to protect Britain when the attack came and we are very lucky that Dowding took a measured response or we would have lost the battle of Britain.
            Unless we judge mistakes how can we ever respond in an intelligent way to further threats?.

          • Dreadnaught

            Len, I know where you are coming from regarding ‘mistakes’ during the conduct of a major war that appear callous from the perspective of 21st Century access. No doubt though that the post-war left-wing bias in education and the media that has seeped into our conciousness has much to account for in the myth of Lions led by Donkeys, being the catchy by-word phrase that sums up WW1. How much truth there is in that statement rather disrespects the losses insurred by the ‘officer class’ of the day.
            Mistake will always be made that lend weight to such mythology, but if we had failed on D-Day as we did at Arnhem those decisions would no doubt be held as reasons for massive casulaties if we had actually lost the War.
            H.Jones VC died leading his troops in a frontal gung-ho uphill charge in the Falklands: had he been captued leaving his group leaderless (as they were) to be wiped out he would probably had faced a Court Martial once we had been kicked of the islands.
            When we lost 6 MPs slaughtered by and angry mob of Iraquis, blame could have been placed on the person who decided to denude them of arms and materiel deemed to be a priority re-supply in another location. The decision was made. The men died slowly and needlessly; but would it have been good for the morale of those still fighting if they were made aware of the situation? NO it would not. This is what happens in the heat of battle.
            Looking for scapegoats is still with us – why else why jail a hero soldier like Alex Blackman for finishing off a Talib who would happily have slaughtered him and his men and hung their bodyparts from the trees.
            Modern day sensitivities for ‘offending’ Muslims was pandered to by convicting him and jailing him for life for murder, in case tf gave more excuses for terrorism at home and the chance of losing Muslim block votes at the next election.

          • len

            We need to learn the lessons from failed military actions.I don`t see why this is a difficult concept to understand?.
            6 MPs died because they had no ammunition to fight with( this is inexcusable.) The Geneva Convention regarding treatment of prisoners (however barbaric the prisoners have been) is a rule of law.Do we break the law whenever we feel like doing so?.

          • Dreadnaught

            Tha Talib was fatally wounded. Carrying him away would have endangered the entire patrol and the medivac team. A mercy killing was justified we have done it for our own, but should never have been recorded on camera. War is playing for keeps.

          • len

            No problem with that, the man was beyond help…presumably.
            Am I being too logical here?.

          • Dreadnaught

            Decisions taken while you are trying to stay alive, are in a completely different dimension compared to cogitating at a keyboard, while comfortably being so far removed from the reality. If what Blackman did is regarded by some as a ‘war crime’ what criteria would they use for an action such as executing surrendered prisoners; this to me is the difference between his action and an actual war crime.

          • len

            Never going to agree with you and the others on these issues Dreadnaught.

            Leave this ‘discussion’ with this by Wilfred Owen

            Futility

            Move him into the sun—
            Gently its touch awoke him once,
            At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
            Always it woke him, even in France,
            Until this morning and this snow.
            If anything might rouse him now
            The kind old sun will know.

            Think how it wakes the seeds—
            Woke once the clays of a cold star.
            Are limbs, so dear achieved, are sides
            Full-nerved, still warm, too hard to stir?
            Was it for this the clay grew tall?
            —O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
            To break earth’s sleep at all?

          • bluedog

            ‘I cannot understand some military decisions and probably never will.’

            ‘But life is to precious to lose it in badly planned actions.’

            There’s something called the Fog of War, len. It means that the information available to a commander is well short of perfect. The enemy doesn’t just tell you their numbers and their locations, the commander has to find out, in the face of hostile fire and deliberate deception, such as feint attacks. We’re better at it now with firstly aerial and then satellite reconnaissance. There are other factors too, such as logistics, meaning the availability of ammunition, fuel, food and water, all of which can be limiting factors. Sometimes the danger of not attacking is greater than the danger of attack. A retreat can easily turn into a rout from which there is no recovery. As Carl has said, it so easy to be wise after the event. But if you weren’t there at the time, to suggest you now know better is just vanity. And that’s not Christian, is it?

          • carl jacobs

            As Carl has said, it so easy to be wise after the event.

            As Dreadnaught said …

          • bluedog

            Apols, dredders.

          • len

            To be wise before the even…even better!.

          • len

            ‘The enemy doesn`t tell you their numbers and locations.’
            But intelligence does.

          • bluedog

            ‘But intelligence does.’ But there is a precursor phase to intelligence, assuming that intelligence is a process of assessment. What do you think that precursor phase might be?

          • len

            We can quite plainly see how intelligence gathering affects decisions during wars one and two and many other conflicts.In fact any action started without intelligence gathering is just gambling with peoples lives.
            In the old days armies lines up on both sides and took pot shots at each other and the army with the most men left and the end of the ‘battle’ was declared ‘the winner’.

            This seemed to be the same mentality used by commanders during world war 1 and by some Generals during world war 2.
            Is this a method you would recommend?.

          • bluedog

            No len. Just trying to lead you through a process. Let me answer my own question to help you. The precursor phase before any assessment of the enemy’s strength and positions can be made is reconnaissance. So we now have to think about factors which limit reconnaissance and thus may produce misleading intelligence. But we won’t do that in the light of progress to date.

            Instead, if you are familiar with Operation Market Garden, the Arnhem campaign, you may recall a classic intelligence failure caused by (willfully?) incorrect analysis of limited information (the Fog of War). Despite Ultra intercepts suggesting that two German panzer divisions were moving into the Arnhem area, the reports were discounted and the Allied attack continued as planned. In this case politics and rivalry between Montgomery and Eisenhower would appear to be important factors for disbelieving or discounting available evidence.

          • len

            Bad decisions by Generals doesn`t alter the fact that Intelligence gathering is vital such as the breaking of the Enigma Code and the Japanese Naval code was enormously significant.

          • bluedog

            We can agree! But ‘intelligence’ doesn’t just happen, in any sphere of human activity. ‘Intelligence’ has to be obtained and used accurately and effectively. Thus it is entirely possible that a signals intercept may be a false indicator, planted by a foe to mislead.

          • len

            We agreed!. I suppose we could continue this discussion for ever but I am glad we agreed on one point at least.

        • carl jacobs

          Way to edit that post after I replied to it. And no mention of the edit …

          I see the “upside down” world in which I live has been removed.

          • len

            Often edit my posts, as my first response is not always the Christian one!.

      • CliveM

        The men who fought in the Great War, in the main didn’t see their sacrifice as meaningless. It was cruel of politicians (Lloyd George) and historians to suggest that it was.

        The reasons for doing so were frequently self serving and were certainly disrespectful of the men who sacrificed so much.

      • bluedog

        We should never forget the contribution of the Westland Wapiti.

        • carl jacobs

          The what?

          [Google Google]

          OK. That doesn’t count as a WWII aircraft.

          And here I feared you had exposed a hole in my knowledge.

          • CliveM

            I thought I had a good knowledge of WW2 aircraft and I needed to google it!

            It’s always good to have ones ignorance exposed!

          • carl jacobs

            Dang! It was used in the war.

            Only one squadron used the Wapiti in action during the war. No. 104 squadron of the Indian Air Force was formed from No.4 Coast Defence Flight on 1 April 1942 at Dum Dum (west Bengal).

            http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_westland_wapiti.html

          • CliveM

            There was some crap flown by the RAF at the start of the war.

          • len

            ‘Gloster Gladiator Biplanes’ against’ state of the art’ Me 109’s on Malta, one of the places my father was stationed

            Not as bad as some of the planes the Russians had though.

          • Inspector General

            “Almighty God. We give thanks for Donald and his sometime wall, sometime fence affair. To keep the gangsters away. Amen”

          • bluedog

            Possibly not. The name always appeals as being typical of British eccentricity, in that it’s utterly unrelated to anything warlike and doesn’t even sound remotely threatening. I seem to recall my late father flew Fairey Battles in ground attack training. He ended up in the British Pacific Fleet using Fairey Fireflies against the Japanese in SE Asia and the western Pacific. Didn’t enjoy the experience. His favourite aircraft was the mighty Walrus, or Shagbat as it was known, which he flew off HMS Cumberland in Arctic convoys.

          • TropicalAnglican

            In my sunnier tropical days, when we were members of the Puffin Club, I egged my older brother to send in the following riddle:
            “Which mosquito is big enough to carry a man?”
            (The answer, of course, was the de Havilland Mosquito bomber).
            And if I had known at the time, the second question would have been:
            “What kind of buffalo can fly?”

          • carl jacobs

            You know, the Finnish pilots in ’39 were so good, they made the Brewster Buffalo into a competent aircraft. Of course their kill rate went up alot when they started using Me109s.

          • CliveM

            Did it? WIKI is unclear. It mentions an overall Buffalo kill rate of 26:1, but doesn’t mention what the Me109 rate was. Do you know?

          • carl jacobs

            No, it’s just something I remember reading once.

  • Dreadnaught

    When you’re partly living with no eyes, one leg and half a mind, there’s not much comfort in remembrance. Much better to forget.
    Says who?
    Not according to the many hundreds of war wounded I witnessed at the Cenotaph today.

  • David

    Many of us who frequent Cranmer’s church may well have attended local Remembrance Services. Ours was as moving and as solemn as ever with a wonderful simple, direct sermon from our visiting vicar. We did not glorify war but we honoured and remembered the fallen from our villages, who died serving their country.

    I took away from that service the renewed belief that humanity, being hopelessly flawed, really is not the thing to put your faith in; rather we must all turn to our ever loving Father and the gospel message of hope and salvation, brought to us by His Son, Jesus Christ.

    The sermon reminded us that it is only when Christ returns that total peace will descend upon our blood soaked earth. Perhaps His return is near, but I make no predictions. We must all strive to create a little bit of God’s kingdom here on this earth, waiting and working patiently for the real thing to be brought to us.

  • chefofsinners

    Wait.

  • I’m one of the bell ringers at our parish church. The bells were half-muffled for the occasion which sounds appropriately mournful for such an occasion. One bright stroke followed by a dull stroke which sounds like a echo. A beautiful sound and we managed to get enough ringers to ring all eight bells. We ring the bells until ten to eleven when the Service starts by the war memorial outside on the green where there was the largest crowd that I’ve seen for some years.
    How long we will be able to continue is doubtful. We need new ringers as all except one are over seventy and are progressively finding ringing more difficult. I hope this isn’t another tradition which will disappear into history.

    • David

      Well done for helping keep the fine tradition of English church bell ringing alive. Few realise how unique the English method is. I was a bell ringer in my youth, mainly I confess because I received handsome payment for ringing for weddings.

      • We’ve had trouble finding enough ringers for weddings this year. It’s difficult to get ringers from other local churches as during the summer they often have weddings at the same time. We still get paid well for weddings, but these days the teenagers seem to have plenty of money and can’t be bothered to learn (or they don’t want to get out of bed on a Sunday!).

  • IanCad

    So well said, YG.
    The winds of strife are still being held back. Jesus is merciful.
    Have to say it though – there is more meat in this brief editorial than the entire Cranmer/Percy debates thus far.

  • Inspector General

    “Lord. We give thanks and praise this day. Not to you, for our prayers to you to intercede and stop us blowing each other into pieces are clearly futile, but to the scientists. The men whose ability, skill and imagination have provided us with our own earthly blessing. The Hydrogen Bomb. That it maintain the peace for evermore, and that it be used to smite our enemies if we so desire. Amen.”

    • carl jacobs

      More vapid musings from the higher theology of the gifted.

      • Inspector General

        Yes. You could say that. We are in partnership with God, are we not? the word ‘covenant’ comes to mind. We have inherited the situation from the Jews.

  • Sarky

    Held alot more meaning this year as my son has applied for the infantry.
    I couldn’t be prouder.

  • Murti Bing

    I do hope so, but if he were, we’d surely know it.

  • “And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See to it that you are not troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows (or ‘birth pangs’)” (Matthew 24:6-8; cf. Romans 8:20-23).
    .
    We can’t say we weren’t told. But something better is coming!

    • Oisín mac Fionn

      It’s been like this for 2000 years. And for thousands of years before that too.

      As far as birth pangs go, what exactly is being born? What takes 5000 years to come into the world? Longer probably, given that wars and earthquakes are happening now at no appreciably different rate than at any other time in history. Will this labour last 6000, 7000 or 20,000 years? And will mindless navel-gazing Christians so convinced that THEY are the only possible witnesses of the Apocalypse, which has to come during their brief and miserable time on earth, keep on regaling us with their droning cries of “repent for the end is nigh!”?

      They’ve been wrong for a long time and nothing about our present situation proves them right now. Let them drone, I say. What else are they good for except predicting false doom?

      • Anton

        Several thousand years of wars and today for the first time we have WMDs….

      • What part of ‘The end is not yet’ don’t you understand?

        • Oisín mac Fionn

          I understand that “the end is not yet” was translated 500 years or so ago from original texts that were written around two millennia ago.

          The end may not have been yet in the year 150 or 200. But there’s been plenty of time for it to arrive since then.

          But that’s both the strength and weakness of open-ended prophecies. You can always say “not yet but one day” until the people you’re stringing along realise you’re talking nonsense and dismiss you as a false prophet.

  • Mike Stallard

    Yesterday, at Church, there was a man who had fought at Anzio and Monte Cassino. He never wears a poppy because, he assured me, the people of London and Birmingham had a much worse time of it.
    I just wish a lot more of these posturing, caring, sharing and virtuous people (BBC especially) who have never known what war is like would shut up.