Respect for the fallen soldier

Over the horizon comes November swept in by broomstick witches and hobgoblins clearing the way for the whizz-bang bonfires of Guy Fawkes Night – hopefully good fun for the kids.

It also heralds Remembrance Day; the parade to the war memorial, the thanksgiving, the naming of those who gave their life for our freedom, the bugler’s ‘Last Post’ and the two minute silence.

Here in Henfield there is also an excellent ceremony, instituted by the parish council some 20 years ago, in which children of the primary school place a poppy at each grave of the ten servicemen buried in the cemetery.

We now know that there are a further six family headstones where the overseas death in battle of a Henfield son is recorded.

And here’s the rub. This year, councillors were asked to vote their choice of the appropriate way to remember those whose death is recorded in the cemetery but who lie elsewhere – a single poppy at a commemorative plaque or a poppy at each headstone.

The decision was overwhelming; council’s resolution is unequivocal, a child places a poppy only at an actual grave: no body – no poppy.

For the others the poppy at the plaque will suffice.

Of course we abide by the majority but it is hard to accept that a single poppy at a nameless plaque is more appropriate than a poppy at each man’s memorial – each fallen serviceman commemorated equally.

May I add that when last year after the conclusion of the ceremony I invited people to join me in placing a poppy at one of those memorials nobody demurred.

Everybody joined in, a child placed the poppy and people remarked that it was good to do so. Yet I was taken aside after the next council meeting and given a metaphorical slap across the wrist – but the fallen soldier had received the respect due to him. Surely we should continue to show that respect.


Southview Terrace, Henfield