The lessons of history

There was a huge turnout in Carfax for Remembrance Sunday. It is a short yet moving ceremony – preceding the service at St Marys.


The face of Remembrance Sundays is changing. I will never forget on Remembrance Sunday as a child talking to a Somme veteran about the battle. From those able to talk of their Great War experiences we learned direct about the consequences of that awful war. I was privileged to be at the Cenotaph on Armistice Day in 2008 when the three remaining servicemen of that conflict attended for the last time.


Survivors of the Second World War are still happily with us, last week Normandy veterans received the Legion D’Honneur in the French Embassy. In Horsham we still have many who, as combatants, or having served on the home front, know first hand the reality of “Total” war. It is however inevitable that as time passes numbers dwindle.


The accepted wisdom was that as the wartime generation passes so the commermorations will fade. Nothing could be further from the truth.


Those attending Horsham’s commemoration came from every generation. Due to our thriving Sea, Army and Air Cadet contingents and other groups the emphasis was in fact on youth. The Revd Jimmy Young in St Marys reminded us that the start of the Great War is now closer in time to the Battle of Waterloo than to the present but that the need to remember and learn from history is critical to ensure we don’t repeat the same mistakes.


Parliament this week is embarked on the EU Withdrawal Bill – which is vital to ensuring we have a working statute book on leaving the EU. We are leaving the EU but we are emphatically not turning our back on Europe. This country will not be joining the plans for an EU Army and defence forces, nor should we. However we will continue, as Europe’s greatest military power, to be unstinting in the common defence of our continent. Many of those killed in the World Wars and conflicts since were little older than the cadets parading on Sunday. We must indeed never forget the lessons of history.


Photo caption: Members of the Horsham detachment, Army Cadet Force collecting in Carfax for the Poppy Day Appeal.