Following the reported remarks by councillors (8th March) and Bernard Stonewell’s letter (15th March), personally I find HBC’s proposal to sponsor a commemoration of the start of WW1 rather bizarre: the traditional way is to commemorate the end of a war, i.e. the peace.
But if HBC goes ahead, we should remember the warning from the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”.
We should also remember the photographs from all sides of troops happily marching off to war with fixed bayonets, in the expectation that it would ‘all be over by Christmas’ i.e. 4½ months.
Remembering the millions of horrific deaths that followed in the next 4½ years, commemorating the start of WW1 should be a very sober and reflective affair!
The proposal invites “local former servicemen to hold a day of remembrance and...47 RA to march with fixed bayonets”; given good will, this could be done in a sober, reflective and respectful manner, without being in any way ‘inflammatory’ to the many thousands in the Hastings area alone who lost loved ones in the Great War (and in the wars which followed).
As for the mentioned ‘spirit of reconciliation’, if the councillors involved go to the military section at Hastings Cemetery on Volkstrauertag, Sunday, 17th November 2013, to pay their respects to the seven German airmen interred there, I for one would join them.
In Traurigkeit, sagten die ehemalige Feinden und spätere Freunden meines Großvaters, “Nie wieder Krieg!”
Chairman, Hastings and St Leonards Veterans Association