“The Great War”

Unsurprisingly morning TV is all about this day being one hundred years on from the beginning of Britain’s involvement (so therefore the British Empire/Commonwealth’s) in the Great War (later to be known – how sad is that? -as World War One). Coincidentally (perhaps) there is a service at Glasgow (the Commonwealth games finished there yesterday) Cathedral to mark this momentous day.

Talking to a parish councillor at our allotment Open Day on Saturday about the “war memorial” in Cheslyn Hay.

(I have to say, that, sitting alone later I had to think that, once upon a time, the very allotments “sent” people to the conflict, were affected by the goings on in a very real fashion.)*

The plaques with the names of those who had been killed was going to be re-dedicated the next day (Sunday, 3rd August) in a special ceremony. But I also learned something new. Something maybe that I should have known, but had never stopped to think about.

A further plaque (also refurbished) was previously affixed to the house next to the Cheslyn Hay war memorial and it had the names on it of Cheslyn Hay people who went away to war and survived the conflict.

Having never really thought of this before, when I was told I realised what a truly remarkable and valuable thing this was to have done. The First World war, then known by most simply as the Great War changed the world: politics, nations, cultures, and social economics both locally and globally. The role of women (here in the U.K. – no right to vote before 1914, equal rights after 1918 is one easy, small example).

And all of the people involved played a part in this change; not just those that were injured or lost their lives. Every family went through suddenly different, unimaginable times during the absence of those who enlisted. Needless to say, of course, this was more so for those whose loved ones (fathers, husbands, boyfriends, brothers) didn’t return or who returned badly injured.

But I simply had never considered this before. Almost as if life was briefly interrupted for a short while and when they got back everything carried on as before in some impossibly fairy tale fashion.

But the places they lived, the lives they left (work practices, hierarchies, employment prospects, expectations, family dynamics) must have been so very different – no doubt difficult to deal with in some cases – from what they came back to.

Well done to the parish council back in the day for this forward thinking. And to this particular parish councillor for opening my eyes.

Note to self: stop making assumptions.

Note to others: was it only Cheslyn Hay that did this?



One response to this post.

  1. A very interesting observation.


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