Just an ordinary Londoner, taken from an ordinary life and sent, amongst other places, to Gallipoli. No land fit for heroes when he came home. My other grandfather was also at Gallipoli but I have no photo of him at that time. My mother told me once that when she was a child, her father found her playing with a toy gun (she was quite the tomboy). He was very angry and took it away from her. I think that tells you a lot about how ex-soldiers felt.
I found the most moving part of yesterday’s Festival of Remembrance was Bryn Terfel singing Roses of Picardy. The poignancy of these old songs has lasted for a hundred years. Here’s John McCormack singing it.
The darkness crumbles away.
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat,
As I pull the parapet's poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies.
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver – what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in man's veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe –
Just a little white with the dust.