Sunday, 11 November 2018

A very special day of remembrance

Barbara and I were at the Falmouth War Memorial this morning for the special remembrance service on the occasion of the end of the Great War, 100 years ago at 11am today.  
War Memorial, Kimberley Park, Falmouth, 11am

The horrific First World War touched the lives of many families and although all those who fought in it are now dead, it is important that the sacrifice of men and women of all nations be remembered.
In 1984 I was at a NATO Advanced Study Institute conference in Turkey, where I met for the first time Prof. Gulhan Ozbayoglu, of the Middle East Technical University. During our time in Bursa, I learned that our grandfathers had both fought, on separate sides, at Gallipoli in the Great War, both being wounded, Gulhan’s mortally. We took a day off from the conference and visited the war memorials at the Dardanelles with her family, and it brought home to me how lucky we were to be alive.
With Gulhan and her family at Gallipoli
My grandfather (left) in Egypt in 1914,
prior to the Gallipoli landings of 1915

In his youth my maternal grandfather had joined the newly formed Territorial Army, the volunteer reserve force of the British Army, and on the outbreak of the war, he was sent to France with the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, as part of the British Expeditionary Force. In 1915 he was in Turkey, fighting in Gallipoli. Whilst taking part in a raid on a Turkish trench he found that, on reaching their objective, all his comrades had been either killed or wounded. Retreating to his home trench he was shot in the back, and lay with the dead. As the bodies were eventually removed he stirred in the hot sun and someone noticed that he was still alive. Remarkably, less than a year later, minus one lung, he was back in the trenches, in the Battle of the Somme. He survived the war, and my mother was born in 1921. A sobering thought that if that Turkish bullet had been an inch or so to the left or right, my line of the Wills family would not have existed!

I have lost touch with Gulhan since our last meeting at the IMPC in New Delhi 6 years ago. I assume she has now retired from METU, but if anyone has news of her, I would very much like to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. Barry, you brought out many hard facts, both at global level and at your personal front,;hard and sad facts of past tragedies MANY LESSONS TO LEARN ON WHAT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED AND HOW BRAVE PEOPLE STAND UP IN CHALLENGING TIMES
    Many lessons to learn
    Let us move on without forgetting the past.


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