On Remembrance Day, it is a time for us to reflect, remember and commemorate those who defended our freedoms.
We decided to speak with supporters club member, and volunteer, Terry Morton, who completed 22 years of service for his country.
In his own words, Terry tells us his story and ultimately, what Remembrance Day means to him.
In 1977, I went to join the Royal Engineers but somehow ended up in the Intelligence Corps. During my career, I travelled widely including Northern Ireland, Germany, the Falklands, Cyprus and the Gulf War. Out of my 22 years of service, I spent eight years and two months deployed on operations. Thankfully, I returned from all of them unharmed.
Others weren’t so lucky, and it’s those that we remember at this time of year. Personally, I remember the two friends I lost in Northern Ireland, but also those who survived and have since passed. “Absent friends” is a toast often heard at reunions.
But I also think of those who died in the two world wars and other conflicts. The term ‘lost their lives’ is often used in place of ‘died’, but the former carries greater weight for me. They truly did lose their lives – their entire life that was before them. Those young men who died on the Somme, at El Alamein or on the Falls Road, never married, had children, walked their daughter down the aisle or watched their grandchildren open Christmas presents. On their death, a branch of their family tree was cut off. Perhaps the great-granddaughter of Private Tommy Atkins would, had she been born, gone on to discover a cure for cancer?
Of course, Remembrance means different things to different people. My earliest memories are of a childhood in the sixties, just 20 years after the end of World War Two. Pretty much every adult I knew, from relatives, to teachers, to neighbours, to shopkeepers, had served, or suffered loss, or survived the Blitz. At family gatherings, I was surrounded by reminiscences of the war. We played on bomb sites pretending to be commandos, or in the park where all the iron railings had been cut off to build battleships.
But things change. War changes. Aircrafts can launch strikes from hundreds of miles away, a drone operator in Kansas can attack a target in Afghanistan and then go home for his tea. We’ve become detached from war. Apart from the price of petrol, it doesn’t affect us. As a kid, if you’d asked my class, “Who has a relative who is in or has served in the military?” every hand would have gone up. Now, in 2022, maybe one would go up.
Of course, that’s a good thing. No sane person wants war and we don’t want children to be exposed to those horrors, but it does create a danger that Remembrance will, over time, be diminished. I hope not. In a time when we can dedicate entire months to causes, it’s always important to spend one day remembering the sacrifice of those who fell and those left behind.
Thank you, Terry, and lest we forget.