Re­mem­brance Fam­i­lies to pay trib­ute to their fore­bears to­mor­row

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Caro­line Davies

Their sto­ries will en­dure. A cen­tury af­ter the guns fi­nally fell silent on the west­ern front, chil­dren, grand­chil­dren, great-grand­chil­dren and other rel­a­tives of those who fought in the first world war will be among the 10,000-strong crowd ex­pected to march past the Ceno­taph in the Peo­ple’s Pro­ces­sion on Re­mem­brance Sun­day.

Mark Rogers will march for his grand­fa­ther Lewis Rogers, a gun­ner who sur­vived the war, but whose brother Ber­tie did not. Ber­tie was one of three of Rogers’ great-un­cles who died in the war. “All were young men. As Lewis said, ‘there was no old men there’,” said Rogers, a maths teacher from Soli­hull.

Ju­lia Knowles will also walk for her grand­fa­ther: Arthur Hines, a sig­naller who sur­vived and went back to France to marry the young French woman who had cap­tured his heart in Lille. She will have in mind a “heart-rend­ing” let­ter Hines car­ried all his life. It was writ­ten to him by the mother of a com­rade who did not come home, in which she con­soles her­self that her son had “died for a great and noble cause”.

Fight­ing con­tin­ued up to the mo­ment of armistice, at 11am on 11 Novem­ber 1918. "Now the two world wars of the last cen­tury are pass­ing from liv­ing mem­ory,” said Rogers. “Even this event is driven by the fact that vet­er­ans of th­ese wars have all but dis­ap­peared. What do we do next? Aban­don the march past the Ceno­taph at White­hall, or adapt it?

“I want to march past in the place of those who used to re­mem­ber their com­rades who had fallen; men who knew the men who had died, and were thank­ful they had sur­vived.”

His grand­fa­ther, from Crowle in Worces­ter­shire, was one of four broth­ers, all of whom fought. He sur­vived the Somme and was shot dur­ing the Bat­tle of Aisne. He rarely spoke of the war, his grand­son said. Only to­wards the end of his life did he open up, al­low­ing his grand­son to record his mem­o­ries. “I asked him whether he ever thought about the many men he must have killed. He replied: ‘I sup­pose I did. You couldn’t miss ’em. It was like shoot­ing into a wall of cat­tle.’”

Rogers said: “I think they had to sani­tise it, to come to terms with it. It was just do­ing a job, ba­si­cally.” was so moved by the let­ter writ­ten to her grand­fa­ther, who served with the British ex­pe­di­tionary force, that she re­cently sought out the grave of his com­rade, Wil­liam Munro Hutchin­son, from Bolton.

The men’s friend­ship was forged in the war. When Hutchin­son died aged 24, Hines wrote to his par­ents, and his com­rade’s mother wrote back. “It must have meant a lot to my grand­fa­ther,” said Knowles, an op­er­a­tions man­ager at a satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany. “He kept it all his life. But we knew noth­ing about it un­til my fa­ther died, and we found it in his per­sonal ef­fects.”

Knowles will also cel­e­brate the more “joy­ous” con­se­quence of the war – in that it brought her grand­par­ents to­gether – and the close links she re­tains with her French grand­mother’s fam­ily.

Mark Rogers is re­mem­ber­ing his grand­fa­ther and three great-un­cles

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