Remembering 1918

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His frail hands trembled as he clutched onto the delicate flower. The scarlet flower he held onto held so much significance; from the blood red colouring to the seeds that withstood the war of all wars and gave hope that there would be life. Ben remembered the fields that had been churned up by bombs, guns and heavy boots and only weeks later the poppy had risen from the barren battlefields showing that they would survive somehow. Silence lingered in the air but never approached as crowds hushed conversations were whisked and battered around by the vigorous November winds like the crisp autumn leaves that were scattered around the cenotaph.

Respect loitered around the monument as solemn figures stood proudly with their heads held high. Ben scanned the individuals who had arrived to pay their respects to those who had fallen in a fight for their queen and country in the past ninety years. Navy commanders and Army generals stood poised and collected, their expressions looked thoughtful but distant; royals and politicians stood with their heads bowed down to the ground whilst holding onto wreaths made of intertwining poppies; then in four wheelchairs sat the remaining veterans.

Each one of them was dressed in the appropriate uniform for each area of the military they fought in with blankets wrapped around their fragile bodies. The four of them, including Ben were all staring at the cenotaph. Their eyes held so much more experience than any of the people that were attending the ceremony ever hoped to have. Ninety years ago Ben had fought in the war to end all wars supposedly and had fought extremely well for someone so young. Ben remembered the events of 1914 through to 1918 so vividly it was like he had returned home yesterday with aching bones, just wanting to rest and see his sweetheart once more.

Ben had been sent away just before the Christmas of 1914, the 19th of December to be precise. Ben had been sent away only weeks after his father had been sent away and would be joining him. His mother almost refused to let him go but at eighteen years of age he qualified to go. He told his mother they would meet again and he didn’t know when or where but that he would return. Ben had joined his father like he knew he would and ended up in Ypres, Belgium and was sent out to the trenches immediately kitted out in a seaweed green trench coat, hat and gloves ready to fight the cold.

Ben joined the others bright eyed and eager to fight but little did he know of the reality of the trenches. The first week Ben had his first Christmas in the trenches which was unlike the Christmases to follow. He had fought for his country for five days but then on his sixth day then there was truce between both sides. Both sides had given up and slowly marched into no mans land where they sang, swapped photo’s of family and had a football match. That day was never mentioned again though everyone thought about it. Ben went back to living in pure hell, lice, mud, bad weather; those were only the minor of the problems that Ben faced.

Ben got to go on leave very so often but it happened and when it did Ben wished it would last forever. Ben hated seeing his mother is distress over his father and him being away fighting. His sweetheart, Mary Jane also hated seeing him to rarely. Ben would pray to God every morning and evening on his knees and his hands clutched to his chest that he would be sent back home but God never completed any of Bens wishes though many had commented on how God seemed to favour Ben over any of them as Ben survived every attack, of course this didn’t mean that there weren’t any injuries.

Ben had received many injuries over the four years he fought in the war, he had seen it all, from broken arms to shards of bombs being stuck in legs. However hospitals were a thing of the past for Ben as was the war. “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. ” Ben sighed; that speech didn’t sum up anything for him. The war was something he hoped no man would ever have to go through again.

Ben leant back in the wheelchair as his thoughts wandered peacefully, his creased eyelids gradually shut whilst the speech continued in the background. “Almost 90 years ago the armistice of world war one happened, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 1918. Since then one other war has taken place worldwide, we all hope such a tragedy should never occur again. May they rest in peace as their today made our tomorrow. “

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