We are approaching that time of the year where we see many people wearing red poppies, building up to the act of remembrance on the 11th November every year. Now many of you will know why we wear poppies and perhaps understand the story behind the poppies’ significance, a few of you will even know the story of how the poppy came to be the international symbol of remembrance.
Obviously Remembrance Day stems from the First World War and I hope, following on from Mr Barraclough’s very moving address last week in chapel you all now have gained some appreciation of the scale of the sacrifice in the First World War, an indication of the scale of loss of life, unprecedented to any conflict the world had ever seen.
This Sunday marks the centenary of armistice day, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918. The day is to remember the agreement by the allies and Germany to end all fighting. At the beginning of 1918 Germany was in strong force and on its way to winning the war, in March 1918 Germany launched the Michael offence pushing Britain and France far back but backfired due to the Allies counter attack. Germany realised that they could no longer win the war, due to the triple alliance failing including the fail of the Schlieffen Plan in 1914 and the Verdun offence in 1916, to add to this the USA joined in 1917 to add to the British and the French giving the triple entente power. German army leaders ordered to end all fighting and two days later the armistice was signed by Germany and all guns fell silent.
The Second World War saw an even greater scale of destruction and death with over 80 million deaths, 3% of the global population in 1940. 21 million service personal were lost in the conflict. That means more Armed forces men and women from around the world were killed than the populations of the Netherlands, Chile or Sweden. These conflicts are very well known and on Remembrance Sunday the focuses to many people. However how many of you know about the 7,145 other British troops who have been killed in action since 1945, in 19 conflicts? Remembrance Sunday is the 11th of November this year and the significance cannot be understated. I challenge you this week to take some time to look at the conflicts since 1945 and also at what our Armed forces are doing around the world today. I hope that you all have a very reflective week,