Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not Far From My Thoughts Today

It's Remembrance Day today.... and while my mind is on the current troops 'in harm's way', I also think on the contribution some of my family has made in years past.

This is my paternal great grandfather Edwin Barton, who served with the Royal Artillery in WW1 and his wife, my great grandmother Elizabeth (nee Bowers) Barton. The young infant on their laps is my great Aunt Eileen, who is still with us in her 90's. They had four daughters: Eileen, Louisa, Edie and Bessie. Louisa was my grandmother and youngest sibling Bessie is also still with us in her 80's. Wars have literally shaped lives and my great aunt Bessie was one of the British war brides that came to Canada after WW2.

My father served in the British Royal Navy, starting at age 14. I found a great picture of him wearing his Royal Navy uniform in London 1955.

He was a Chief Petty Officer when he left the service after spending time in south east Asian waters. My father always attended or participated in Remembrance Day services and I can recall seeing him march or stand at the cenotaph on duty. He continued his service to others by being a police officer for many years.

Now onto my maternal side of the family:

This is my cousin Simon in full dress uniform of the Queens' Horse Guard. He recently left the British Army after serving as an officer in Bosnia and later Iraq in the tank brigades. (To be truthful, I'm not certain of his unit) He is now in civilian life.

My mother was one of three daughters. Below is my grandmother Emma (nee Worden) Way in approx 1918 in her Wren's uniform. She served at an naval airship station in Kingsnorth, England.

This is my grandfather, Trooper Owen Way R.M.L.A WW1, her husband. He also served in the Home Guard in WW2. The First World War was also known as the War to end all Wars and so there was a huge patriotic push for everyone to do their part.

People think that soldiers and sailors have some kind of special nature or aptitude to be called to serve their country. Then, as now... they are simply the ordinary sons and daughters of ordinary people like you and me. While reasons for why such duty is needed may be questioned, their courage and sacrifice should never.

Thank you from a grateful Me.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

John McCrae, a Canadian medical officer


Delighted Hands said...

We are prone to forget; thanks for the reminders.

barbara said...

Thank you for sharing your story.
I will never forget, and it is reading stories like yours that help us remember. My father was in the RCAF, though never overseas. Pay Master in Halifax, went to bed at night with the pay under the bed, and a gun under his pillow. No wonder my mother is terrified of guns!!! Later he was shipped out to Alberta (POW camps), not sure what he was doing there, and on to Vancouver Island to close up a base. Though he did not go overseas, when he left PEI he did not know that my Mom was expecting; and the first time my father met his first son, my brother was 8 months old. Mom and my brother traveled out to join my father. They gave so much. I am so thankful for my freedom, and the freedom we enjoy today.
Thank you for sharing.
Weaverly yours .... Barbara

Lynnette said...

It must be our age Susan. I too am prone to reflect on our very lucky generation that didn't have to fight in a World War. It's so much fun to get a glimpse of your family, thanks for sharing.
Missing you a lot today.

bspinner said...

What an impressive family history!!!!

THANK YOU to all your family members from me too.

We are so lucky to be living in free countries!!!!!

Dorothy Stewart said...

Susan - what a lovely post for Remembrance day. How lucky you are to have all of those photos of family and to know who everyone is !
With so many young people losing their lives in the current war we are constantly reminded of how lucky we are and how grateful to those of previous generations.