This is the season of Remembrance and we with many other families will have special things to recall. Every year at this time I get out the letters sent home by my late father from the front in World War II. He was a Major serving in the Royal Artillery having been called up from his City of London territorial regiment The City of London Yeomanry ( The Rough Riders). I gave his medals and the service sword of my maternal Grandfather (Capt. Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers, note the two royals) to my brother Tim who was in the RADC but I have kept the letters. I will reproduce an extract at the end.....One letter (subject to the censor of course) recounts how he was caught up in the" forgotten war" of 1944. Having fought in North Africa and in the desert(where he says "it was jolly hot"!)he found himself in the civil war in Greece between the communists(the KKE) the left(EAM ,their fighters were ELAS) and the royalists (EDES). Remembering also that he would have been 27yrs old then having begun the war at 24. He was one of five bothers( all became Doctors), four were fighting and the youngest at school. The family home, where my eye surgeon Grandfather had died prematurely in his fifties, was called Winchester House in Southampton and took a direct hit and was bombed flat. " Luckily we were out at the time " famously quoted my widowed Grandmother! At this season there is much to remember, much to regret and much to thank God for. Never should we glory in war but never should we forget the debts we owe. The tragedy is that our modern young troops continue to sacrifice "their today for our tomorrow" WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.
Greece 1944 "There was some straffing from the air... a sniper had just shot one of our spotters, tanks were smashing a road block, fighters were destroying a defended house. The padre is magnificent. He walks about in his cassock puffing his pipe indifferent to the snipers,tanks and barricades. He always turns up for meals but in between there is no hot-spot he does not visit. He seems to have complete faith in the immunity provided by his dog-collar...or perhaps it's his complete faith" Jan 5th. On the end of hostilities that finally occurred that day.. " I walked back to my HQ in the late afternoon hardly able to believe it. It was this silence that was so odd. It made it seem like some awful nightmare from which you are just waking up. The sun was shining on the hills . The birds were singing. But there on the pavement was the body of a dead girl and there were the crators of those two mortar bombs which just missed the Colonel and I, and there in the garden a soldier's grave." Maj.Phillip Arthur Zorab MD FRCPAt our Parish Requiem Mass with Act of Remembrance next Sunday the prayers will be led by the young members of our Sunday School where we with thousands upon thousand will pray for those who died and were injured, those who fought and those who suffer. We will pray for peace and hope for ... peace, knowing that through His death on the cross Jesus overcomes all death, for all time.