Hoby Remembers Those Who Served in the First World War
In his address, at the Dedication of the Hoby War Memorial on 30th May 1920, Admiral Earl Beatty, of Brooksby Hall, spoke of the sacrifice made by the men, whose names are inscribed on the memorial stone, and asked that “they be remembered…in glory everlasting”.
In 1920 it was right and fitting to concentrate thoughts and efforts on those who had died as a consequence of the Great War.
This book commemorates the thirteen who died in service to this country during the Great War, it also lists the 67 men who went off to war of whom 54 returned home. On Remembrance Day in this era, we continue to pay our respects a century after the first young men marched into the ‘war to end all wars’. We are keenly aware of those who have given their lives in the service of this country, but equal concern is now shown to those who have suffered or are still suffering from such service.
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In commemorating the Great War we are fortunate to be able to reflect through the beautiful words penned by the war poets. The horrors of war are unambiguously evoked in the poetry of those who lived through the war like Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon, and those who perished such as Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas and Isaac Rosenberg. Their words embrace our thoughts helping us to remember those whose names appear on our War Memorials and their words enter the hearts of the families and friends they left behind. However, it is from the poetry and prose of Edmund Blunden, another of the distinguished war poets, that the full horrors of surviving and returning are most touchingly portrayed.
In commemorating those who died we must also pay due respect to those like Edmund Blunden who spent the remainder of their lives haunted by their war experiences. The names recorded in this booklet include 54 men who went to war and, like Blunden, returned to their homes and loved ones. Lucky or fortunate you may ponder, in comparison to the men whose names appear on the War Memorial, but at what cost we can only surmise.
Blunden was 22 years old at the end of the war and lived a tormented life for a further 53 years. He wrote about the war from 1915 to 1966 with the effects pounding away in his head during the day and nightmares every time he tried to sleep. Today we recognise this as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – for which diagnosis and treatment services are gradually improving – but for Blunden, and thousands of other veterans of the Great War, this would have been an empty label for a crippling condition which man has created by his wars. As many others also considered, Blunden wrote on the eve of the Second World War: “Have we not learnt from what happened in the First World War?”
Then, as now, men die in war and their names are engraved on memorials across the country; but alongside the ‘Fallen’ are many more doomed to suffer like Edmund Blunden. So, while we quite rightly commemorate and pay tribute to the ‘Fallen’ by visiting war memorials or by just reading this small book, remember also those who returned and remained affected by their exposure to war for the rest of their lives.
Dr Dennis Marshall-Hasdell Squadon Leader (Ret’d)– August 2014