Terry Hunt

A poignant story to re­mind us of the sac­ri­fices made in two World Wars.

EADT Suffolk - - INSIDE - Huntt1957@gmail.com

Iam al­ways very moved by war me­mo­ri­als. To me, they are the most poignant of all tributes to those who made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice to en­sure our free­dom. Of­ten, it is the me­mo­ri­als in smaller vil­lages which I find the most evoca­tive. Be­cause there are fewer names of the fallen, each name car­ries a more pow­er­ful and emo­tional mes­sage.

Very un­ex­pect­edly, I re­cently came across an ex­am­ple of this in the church­yard in one of Suf­folk’s very small­est ham­lets. Dave Kin­dred, for­mer East Anglian Daily Times pic­ture edi­tor, and I walked to the tiny, iso­lated church at Aken­ham, just out­side Ip­swich. We were in­ter­ested be­cause the church fea­tures in a very fa­mous story of the 1870s, known as the Aken­ham Burial Case. It was one of the EADT’s most im­por­tant early sto­ries.

But when we ar­rived at the church I was drawn to the small but well-kept war memo­rial, within a few yards of the church door. It reads: To the glory of God in lov­ing and grate­ful mem­ory of Amos Purkiss, Ge­orge James Purkiss, Arthur Edgar Purkiss of this par­ish who fell in the Great War 1914-18. “Peace.” Three men, pre­sum­ably all young, and all with the same sur­name. Were they broth­ers?

Aken­ham is es­sen­tially a few scat­tered houses amid open fields. I as­sume it was lit­tle dif­fer­ent a cen­tury ago. If the Purkiss boys were from the same fam­ily then one of the houses Dave and I walked past must have been a place of unimag­in­able grief and suf­fer­ing dur­ing the First World War. A mother, a fa­ther, maybe wives or sweet­hearts. Per­haps lit­tle sons or daugh­ters. All deal­ing with their aw­ful loss as, one by one, the dreaded news reached them.

At this time of year, re­mem­ber­ing our war dead is very much at the fore­front of our minds. Al­most ev­ery com­mu­nity in Suf­folk suf­fered losses in one or both of the World Wars in the 20th cen­tury, as well as in other con­flicts. As one of Suf­folk’s Deputy Lieu­tenants, I have the great hon­our of rep­re­sent­ing the Lord-Lieu­tenant at the Re­mem­brance Ser­vice in Fram­ling­ham. Like ev­ery such oc­ca­sion in Suf­folk, it is very poignant and emo­tional.

More than 100 Fram­ling­ham peo­ple who lost their lives in the two World Wars are re­mem­bered. Imag­ine that. Fram­ling­ham was lit­tle more than a vil­lage back then, and it lost more than 100 men and women. It re­ally is dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend. In 2014 the EADT pub­lished the Roll of Hon­our, print­ing ev­ery name from hun­dreds of war me­mo­ri­als in Suf­folk. Thou­sands and thou­sands of names.

Last year, the cen­te­nary of the end of the First World War saw un­prece­dented at­ten­dances at Re­mem­brance Ser­vices. That was cer­tainly the case at Fram­ling­ham, where I was struck by the in­volve­ment of so many young peo­ple. Not so many years ago, it seemed Re­mem­brance Sun­day had be­come some­thing which was only rel­e­vant to the older gen­er­a­tion.

That has changed, largely be­cause of the loss of young sol­diers in re­cent con­flicts, pre­dom­i­nantly in Iraq and Afghanista­n.

This year marks an­other sig­nif­i­cant an­niver­sary - 80 years since the out­break of the Sec­ond World War. I’m sure Re­mem­brance Ser­vices across the county and, in­deed, through­out the coun­try, will once again be very well at­tended by all gen­er­a­tions.

It is im­por­tant that we re­mem­ber, and pay trib­ute to those who made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice for us. Many mil­lions lost their lives in wars and con­flicts in the 20th cen­tury. Their sac­ri­fice en­sured the free­dom we en­joy to­day.

This year, dur­ing the silent trib­ute, as well as think­ing of mem­bers of my fam­ily who were lost, my thoughts will be with the Purkiss boys of Aken­ham. Just three of the Suf­folk lads who went to war and never came home. ◆

RIGHT: Aken­ham war memo­rial

Photo: Su An­der­son

LEFT: Rel­a­tives of the Purkiss broth­ers, Bill Gant, Ann Cur­tis and Pa­tience Ling, lay wreaths at the reded­i­ca­tion of the war memo­rial at St Mary’s Church in Aken­ham in 2015

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