Letter from the Rectory November 2017
This year on Remembrance Sunday (12th November), we particularly recall the centenary of the events of 1917.
The War Memorial to the fallen of the First World War in Withyham Church records the names of fifteen servicemen; over half of them - eight in number - died in 1917. Their names are: Charles Edward Bates, David Weekes, William Henry Akehurst, Fred Hider, Arthur Coomber, Fred Stapley, Ernest Arthur Bissenden and Jesse Mepham.
On the Lych Gate memorial at Blackham Church six of the thirteen remembered by name also died in 1917: A.H. Sales, F. Childs, M. Wood, N. Collins, J. Groombridge and I. Towner.
Being a relative newcomer to the area, I donít know how many of their relatives still live locally. What I do know is that that year was a horrific one for those serving in the armed forces. The conflict at Passchendaele around the town of Ypres raged from July-November and is estimated to have claimed the lives of 200-300,000 British soldiers, let alone other nationalities on both sides.
Often at Remembrance Sunday services we hear the words from Johnís Gospel, Chapter 15, Verse 13 that Ďgreater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.í
Although contemporary life has many challenges whatever our age, none of us face what our forebears endured in the trenches in 1917. Today, our love of our fellow men and women is more likely to be expressed in care for those less fortunate than ourselves, a willingness to put the needs of others before our own agendas and a desire not to seek for any reward for doing so. The example of courage in great adversity of those who have gone before us, however, remains undimmed.