posted on Jul, 4 2006 @ 07:18 AM
I wasnt sure where to put this so here seemed as good a place as any.
Today the US celebrate their independence from what was the British Empire. It is
good for a Country to be able to draw together in these difficult times, even if its just for one day. Happy independence day to the United States of
But for my family here in the UK the 4th of July isn't a time for rejoicing but a time for sadness ..... A time of mourning.
90 years ago today my Great Uncle aged 19 went over the top in what was to be the 3rd day of the bloodiest battle in British, French and German
History, today 90 years ago was the 4th day of the Battle of the Somme. The previous 3 days had seen slaughter on a scale not seen in the History of
My Uncle was a stretcher bearer, he has survived the previous 3 days with his party going out into no mans land at night and pulling wounded men back
to aid stations to be treated. Looking at the casualty figures from the first day alone, 19,240 dead - 35,494 wounded and 2,152 missing in the first
24 hours, it must have been hellish work.
On the 4th day at around 2.30 am my Uncle went over the top to help pull wounded men from the jaws of German Artillery and machine gun fire, he and
his party of 6 were never seen again.
Just another number amongst thousands upon thousands who were killed in that dreadful battle over the next 6 months.
My Great Grandmother told me not long before she died that she took comfort in that fact he was helping to save lives not take them but always on the
4th you would often find her sat at her window with the only photo that we had of him in uniform staring out the window lost in thought. Even when she
was an old woman of 103 she always put some time aside on the 4th to remember him.
Now that she has passed away it is left to me to keep his memory alive. So when you are watching the fireworks and having a beer with friends raise a
glass for me, to my Uncle and his lost friends, to the French who were almost bled white at Verdun, a battle that the Somme was conceived to help
relieve, to all the men from the commonwealth who rallied to Britain we owe a debt to you that can never be repaid. And raise a glass to the brave
Germans who endured unbelievable torment from artillery fire in the days leading up to the battle and fought bravely and doggedly.
But most of all remember what the folly of War truly is.That fallen Soldiers are not just numbers on the tally sheet of History but people who lived
and loved and then died on the field of human cruelty.
As the years go on and the last of the Veterans pass away all that will be left will be their silent monuments, the vast cities of the dead that
litter the fields of France and Belgium. A generation lost forever.
So happy independence day to you all but take a moment to remember that awful battle .......... Lest we forget.