Armed Forces Day is an opportunity to celebrate and support the Armed Forces community for their hard work, dedication and efforts to keep us safe in the UK and across the globe. This year Armed Forces Day will be celebrated on Saturday 27th June 2020. Throughout the week, Brightred have been flying the flag and sharing stories on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook.
I REMEMBER – FREDERICK W HUGHES
Like many of us, it took the passing of a loved one, in my case my father, to feel that sudden need to delve into the past and find out more about my family history. It was on that journey that I discovered my Great Grandfather.
Frederick William Hughes was born in Liverpool in March 1895. By the time he was 21, he was married, a father of two sons, aged 3 and 2, and a soldier.
Service No – 64083
Rank – Lance Corporal
Unit – 112th Coy
Infantry – Machine Gun Corps
Killed in action – Flanders
On the 19th December 1917, aged just 21, Frederick W Hughes was sadly killed in action on the Battlefields at Ypres in Flanders.
Sadly, until 10 years ago, I didn’t even know his name, let alone his story. I can only surmise that my grandfather had no memories to share, as he was only 3 when his father died.
He is buried in the Spoilbank Cemetery, on the road to Ypres, Belgium. The cemetery was begun in February 1915 and used by troops holding this sector until March 1918. It is particularly associated with the casualties of the 2nd Suffolks on ‘The Bluff’ early in 1916. The cemetery contains 520 burials and commemorations of the First World war. 125 of the burials are unidentified and special memorials are erected to 11 casualties known or believed to be buried amongst them.
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of red
In 2014 the Tower of London marked the centenary of the outbreak of The First World War (WWI) with the commemorative art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, which saw the moat filled with thousands of ceramic poppies.
21,688 people volunteered to install the poppies. Each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war.
All the poppies that made up the installation were sold, raising millions of pounds which were shared equally amongst six service charities.
I am the proud owner of one of these poppies, now affectionately known as ‘Fred’
For those of you lucky enough to own one of these beautifully hand-crafted ceramic poppies, will remember they were delivered in a very impressive, commemorative presentation box, designed I’m sure, to be locked away for safe-keeping.
Personally, this was never going to be an option for me and instead ‘Fred’ takes pride of place in my garden, so that he can be appreciated and remembered everyday. He even joined the table as guest of honour at our recent VE Day celebrations.
To finish my story, I thought it only fitting to share the famous war memorial poem, written by John McCrae.
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD, (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918) was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.