Remembering The Dead
November 11 is commonly known here as Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day), a memorial day observed in Commonwealth member states since the end of World War 1. However, the month also recalls memories of some of the worst tragedies in Saint Lucia’s history.
Remembrance Day is when we remember and honour the members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty. The day was specifically designated by King George V on November 7, 1919 and is also recognised as a special day for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries. Remembrance Day is observed on November 11 (or the Sunday closest to that date) to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918. The memorial evolved out of Armistice Day, which continues to be marked on the same date. The initial Armistice Day was observed at Buckingham Palace, commencing with King George V hosting a “Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic” during the evening hours of November 10, 1919. The first official Armistice Day was subsequently held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace the following morning. The date marks the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning - the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.
November 1 and 2 are also observed by Catholics and other denominations as All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day respectively, in honour of the dead.
Saint Lucia suffered two mass casualty events in November, the most recent being on November 10, 2011.
On that day a bus of passengers coming from a funeral near Morne Sion, Choiseul veered off a cliff into the ocean. All 19 passengers died.
And, in what was described as “Black Monday”, the worst human tragedy in Saint Lucia struck on November 21, 1938. On that date the Ravine Poisson landslide disaster occurred after a hillside on the west of the ravine collapsed. This resulted in a mudslide that buried everything in its path, including a cluster of homes. The cause of the disaster was attributed to a deluge of mud, loose soil and water brought about by prolonged heavy rainfall. The final death toll was put at 96.
Major November Tragedies in Saint Lucia: 1914 November 1 - HMS Good Hope sunk off the Coast of Chile - 26 St. Lucians dead 1933 November 7 - Tropical storm - 3 dead 1938 November 21 - Ravine Poisson landslide disaster - 96 dead. 1981 November 30 - Guyana DC 6B crashes at Vigie Airport - 3 dead 1990 November 29 - Bocage landslide - 36 homeless 1992 November 6 - Morne Du Don landslide - 68 homeless 2011 November 10 - Tragic vehicle accident at Morne Sion, Choiseul - 19 dead
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony last Sunday placed a wreath of poppies at the Cenotaph at the Derek Walcott Square in Castries, in honour of Saint Lucian
soldiers who died during World War 1. (photo by Jerry George)