CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Those who died in service of their country

Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne SUS-160604-141512001
Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne SUS-160604-141512001
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It is a very sobering fact that only in one year since 1945 has there not been a British serviceman or woman killed on active service.

For those who like to know these sort of things, the year was 1968 – three years before I was born.

In this week of Remembrance, this sad statistic very much shows the debt of gratitude we owe to those who have lost their lives to defend us, not only in World Wars I and II, but also in places like Korea and the Falklands and more recently, in Iraq and Afghanistan, to name but a few.

Armistice Day today will also see England and Scotland football players wear poppies on their armbands during their World Cup qualifying game despite FIFA saying the symbol should not be worn because it is “political”.

This will be great to see and it has my full support.

The poppy is a symbol at the very heart of what it means to be British and, Scottish nationalists take note: more unites us than divides us.

Here in Eastbourne it will be an emotional few days as we remember relatives from the town and beyond who died in the service of their country.

My Scottish side of the family fought in the trenches with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during the Great War and father and son William and Robert McMurray, my great grandfather and great uncle respectively, were both killed.

Robert was aged just 18.

On my husband’s side, his father courageously flew Lancaster bombers during the Second World War.

His crew of seven were so tight knit, they remained close friends all through their lives.

This makes the Ruthless memorial service at Butts Brow on Sunday afternoon so very special to us as a family. On the top of the downs, the 10 crew of a USAAF B-24D Liberator Bomber “RUTH-LESS” perished far from home in 1944 returning from a raid in their badly damaged aircraft.

However, today, Armistice Day, I will be at the Hampden Park War Memorial to pay my respects ahead of Remembrance Sunday when I will lay a wreath on behalf of the people of Eastbourne at the town’s war memorial.

This is one of the great honours I have as your MP.

What gives me joy on this occasion is seeing the cadets on parade alongside veterans, very much showing our duty one to another and to the generation to come.

What saddens me is the names on the memorial are those of short lives lived just a stone’s throw away from where we stand.

We owe much.

We are all affected and intertwined with war and its consequences.

How right it is to remember.