Today on Armistice Day I have been remembering the fallen. Those brave men and women who gave their lives for their country. Words alone cannot adequately express what I feel when I remember their sacrifice and the ultimate price they paid to defend our freedoms and democracy. On Sunday I attended the remembrance service at Rothwell Holy Trinity Church and then joined the parade to the war memorial for the two minutes silence. It was humbling to be part of something so special. To see local people lining the streets and to walk with our local veterans, our local uniformed men and women who are serving today and all of the many other people from local organisations paying their respects. It is particularly moving to see the young people from the Cubs, Scouts and Guides bearing their flags and helping to lay the wreathes.
This year my thoughts were particularly with The Pals. Recently I visited the National Museum of Coal Mining with my family and was struck by this notice remembering the many miners from Rothwell who fought in World War I. As much of WWI was fought in trenches miners were particularly important as their experience of underground work enabled them to build complex systems of tunnels, running from the trenches to positions underneath enemy lines. They placed explosives at the end of these tunnels to blow up the enemy. Miners also made good soldiers as they were used to hard work, danger and strict discipline.
The notice recalls that how for a period during WWI men who joined the army together, from one workplace or area, could serve together in what became known as the ‘Pals Battalions’. Because the men were friends, they worked well together as a team. However, it also meant that whole communities and workplaces could be devastated if the pals fighting together were killed.
Many miners from Rothwell joined the 12th Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. On 1st July 1916, they found themselves defending the British front line on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. They suffered heavy casualties, but were luckier than many other battalions. Large numbers of Pals died together at the Somme.
I was thinking of the Pals, and the many other brave men and women and their families from Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton, when I laid my wreath on behalf of Rothwell Labour Party. Cllr David Nagle was similarly moved taking part in the remembrance in Oulton.
It also brought back memories of visiting the Tower of London in October and seeing the amazing sea of poppies in the moat.
And if you can forgive a proud mum a moment of pride I just wanted to share the lovely picture of poppies that my daughter did while sitting quietly throughout the whole service at church.