The following article was originally published in the North Wales Weekly News newspaper on 14 November 2016.
Last Sunday, the 13th November, dawned calm and bright in Colwyn Bay. So it is, I have noticed, most Remembrance Sundays – as if the routinely uncharitable November weather decides to stay its hand just long enough to permit the services that are held at war memorials across the country to proceed unimpeded.
There was a large crowd gathered around the monument at Queen’s Gardens. The crowds, indeed, grow greater every year. This service fell on the centenary of the battle of the Somme, possibly the bloodiest military encounter in history, which claimed the lives of over 420,000 British troops, rendering an already sombre occasion even more so.
The First World War centenary commemorations have undoubtedly resounded in the public’s consciousness, prompted in no small part – as the Rev Christine Owen reminded us in her sermon – by Paul Cummins’s “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” art work at the Tower of London. The tsunami of 888,246 ceramic poppies, each symbolising a British Commonwealth serviceman killed in the war, made a profoundly moving visual impact.
Cummins is currently reprising his work at Caernarfon castle, with “Weeping Window”, a cascade of poppies spilling down the fortress’s ancient battlements. It is right that he should; North Wales was grievously stricken by the war. The brass plaque on the plinth of John Cassidy’s impressive memorial in Queen’s Gardens is inscribed with the names of 174 Colwyn Bay men who died in the conflict – a very large number for what would then have been a small coastal town. Scarcely a family in the area could have been untouched by the conflict.
As time passes, memory fades. No serviceman who fought in World War 1 remains alive, and the youngest men and women of World War 2 are now octogenarians. Yet conflicts continue; wars incessantly rage. People are still dying.
Wars are bloody, brutal and horrific. Those who fight them for the safety and freedom of others deserve nothing but our deepest honour and respect. It is right that we should remember them.
And that is why I was so moved by the presence of so many of my fellow townspeople who gathered silently together in Queen’s Gardens last Sunday, heads bowed in the watery November sunshine.
At the May 2015 General Election, David was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Clwyd West, with an increased majority of 6,730.