Tomorrow, church bells will be muffled for Remembrance, then ring out to celebrate the peace
SIR – The “Ringing Remembers” initiative aimed to have 1,400 new bell ringers by Armistice Day 2018, in memory of the 1,400 bell ringers who lost their lives in the First World War. Not all government initiatives fail to reach their target: I believe there are more than 1,700 new bell ringers now, and I am one of them.
I will be proudly wearing my Ringing Remembers badge and poppy while ringing tomorrow at St John the Baptist church, Cottered, in Hertfordshire. At 10.30am the bells will be half muffled for 20 minutes before the Remembrance Day service. Afterwards, at 12:30pm, there will be open ringing, in celebration of the peace and freedom we enjoy.
I have had extensive and dedicated training from unpaid tutors and rung the bells at Weston, Graveley, St Ippolyts and Little Wymondley and, of course, Cottered.
I am doing this to remember all those killed in action and those wounded who were later sent home to die, like my grandfather Frank Marwood Bell, who was buried in Bognor Regis, Sussex, after the war. There must be thousands like him not officially recorded as a casualty of the war.
SIR – Your moving photograph of the silhouettes of the fallen of the First World War in St Mary’s church, Blyth (report, November 9), is part of a programme organised by There But Not There, a charity that raises money for veterans suffering ill health as a result of war.
We in Arundel are privileged to be part of this. Ninety-three of those who left our town during the Great War never returned.
In our Roman Catholic cathedral and our Anglican parish church 93 similar forms sit silently in the pews, their names and an accompanying poppy telling us who they were. In one of the front pews the images of three brothers sit together and at the back of the pews two soldiers stand quietly, heads bowed and poppies in their tunics, in black silhouette.
As so often in the life of our town, the Roman Catholic and Anglican congregations work together in active remembrance during this time, and we are delighted to join St Mary’s, Blyth, and other churches in this silent meditation on the courage of the fallen.
Arundel, West Sussex
SIR – My father was 19 at the outbreak of the First World War, and came from a farming background. In the early months of the war he enlisted. But his father went behind his back and used his influence (and the fact that farming was an essential occupation at the time) to get him released. This happened three times, so my father did not join any fighting force.
He was sent a white feather: the symbol of cowardice. I never discussed the war with him, but he felt himself a misfit and never made male friends of his own age. Consequently, there were never significant male figures from outside the family in my life. He never showed signs of disappointment, or hurt at people’s condemnation, and was a caring and loving father to me, my sister and brother.
SIR – In numerous media reports, the many volunteers for service in the First World War who came from Britain’s overseas dominions and colonies have been described as being from the “Commonwealth”, which came into being only after 1926. The authors are presumably keen to dissociate themselves from the word “Empire”.
I am sure it would not be dishonouring the memory of all those brave people who came from afar to help us, if we could bring ourselves to use the E-word in a sympathetic and less self-punishing way on this occasion.
Pontypridd, Mid Glamorgan
How they saw it: Armistice Day, Munitions Centre, by Frederick Etchells, painted in 1919