Weekly Update 10/09/2010
Posted by Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, at 11:59, Fri 10 September 2010:
On the 17th September, 1944 twenty three young men died on their way to war. The glider they were in crashed in fields between Farrington Gurney and Paulton known as Double Hills. They were the first casualties of Operation Market Garden known to many from the film ‘A Bridge Too Far’.
Every year since 1979 these men have been remembered on a Sunday in early September and I have attended many of these since I first went as a ten year old. It is a moving ceremony because it is so personal. Each year the names of all the men who died are read out and their biographies are printed in the programme. The youngest, at eighteen, was Joseph Beale. He would now be a man of 85. He had volunteered to serve in the Royal Engineers and his sacrifice, along with that of thousands of others, saved England and Europe from tyranny.
In remembering it is easy to be overwhelmed by the numbers. Millions died in each of the two world wars. Yet it is the individual stories that show the real loss. People with families who mourned them, children who grew up without fathers, not just statistics. This is the importance of Double Hills for it is on a scale which makes it possible to consider the individual and what he may have been like. It is a reminder of the value of every human life through thinking about those which were cut so short.