We shall remember them.

It’s Armistice Day tomorrow.  As well as the day for commemoration of the role that our servicemen and women have played,  it’s always had a certain resonance for me because it’s also my birthday.  This year it’s even more special as the minute’s silence will be at 11am on 11/11/11.

"Poppy and fence" by Derek Gale

The poppy is a potent symbol of rebirth, as well as of war, with its ability to germinate and grow in very disturbed soil, and its blood red colour.  This poppy was growing by a wire fence, and I thought the contrast between the fence’s machine-made regularity and the poppy’s fragility was very powerful.

"Red heat of battle" by Derek Gale

Also very powerful were the seemingly endless rows of gravestones at this French military cemetery near Verdun in France.  The crosses were lined up as the soldiers were lined up going “over the top”.  It was taken on a very frosty day just after New Year, and looked very blue, so I’ve put some glowing red in to the bases of the nearest crosses to symbolise the heat of the battle.

"Normandy veteran" by Derek Gale

As well as remembering those who fought and died, we also need to remember, and thank, those who fought and survived.  This portrait was taken at a Normandy Veterans’ Association reunion visit to the beaches of Normandy.  It’s of an Able Seaman who was a signalman on a landing craft at Gold beach on D-Day.  He won the Distinguished Service Medal for, among other things, pushing mines away from the landing craft with his feet.  He said he was “just doing his job”.  Thanks Dad.

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