My Great Grandfather Bob West’s medals from his service in the First and Second World Wars. From Left to Right, The 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the War Medal 1939-1945.
On November 11th each year we take a pause to remember those who have served, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in war. It is an opportunity to thank those who serve and have served, and to remind us all that war is never the right answer, it only brings pain and suffering to all involved.
My Great Grandfather Bob West, of Newtownbutler County Fermanagh Northern Ireland was one of the young men who volunteered for the “glorious” cause. He fought at Ypress and the Somme in 1916 and spent 3&1/2 years France on the Western Front. In World War Two he served with the Pioneer Corps around the Bristol Channel in England for 6 years. His obituary is reproduced below that details his small part in the war, and the perfectly normal life he went on to lead between the wars and after World War Two. I don’t really have any memories of him, just fleeting ones, so unfortunately, I don’t know how his experiences changed him, but I take time every year to think about him and the hundreds of thousands of others who served, and those who were not as lucky as my Grandfather to have survived to return home and lead a full life.
My Great Grandfather West’s Obituary
I was born and raised in Canada, my parents having emigrated from Northern Ireland after they were married, and grew up in an era where an ever shrinking number of First World War veterans like my Great Grandfather in Northern Ireland were still alive, but I have vivid memories of them coming to my elementary school each year for Remembrance Day ceremonies. As a child I didn’t understand and couldn’t comprehend what they had gone through, but as an adult, the imprint of the war on them is now clear in my memories of them, and their desire to make sure my generation and future generations remember their sacrifice, so that no others will have to suffer through war and destruction the way they did. Lest we Forget
Canadian and British Legion Poppies, a symbol of our remembrance
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.
In Flanders Fields, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae