“So many did not see home
again, and most of those who
did were shocked into silence.”
Councillor Julian Bell
Leader of the council
was unveiled to him recently, in honour
of his supreme bravery (for which he was
awarded the Victoria Cross).
I was there and felt incredibly moved
by the ceremony and thoughts of what
he must have experienced, and what so
many young men from our towns – often
teenagers or in their early 20s – must
have endured. So many did not see
home again, and most of those who did
were shocked into silence. It makes me
recall these lines from Wilfred Owen’s
poem The Send-Off:
Councillor Bell at the Spencer Road service
Three of my relatives fought and
died on the western front in the
First World War. It is commonly used as
a touchstone for all that is worst in war.
This may be partly because this terrible,
attritional conflict was one of the first to
be recorded on film (both moving pictures
and photography) in such comprehensive
detail; it may have been the shifting
attitudes occurring in society at the time;
it may have been the powerful poetry
written by soldiers; or it may have been
the horrendous cocktail of mud, blood
and fear that ordinary men had to endure
for weeks on end – and the fact so many
of them never made it home, or were
even retrieved from the filthy quagmire of
shells, soil and body parts. It was probably
all of the above, and more.
November will see the centenary of
the end of the war. The armistice of
11 November 1918 was the official end
of the war, even though some pockets
of fighting continued for a while
afterwards – particularly in Russia.
It must have been a moment of terrific
release – and relief – for everyone at
home, never mind those in our ar med
forces. We have been running a series on
Around Ealing’s companion website, at
at how the events impacted on our own
borough. We summarise some of it on
pages 10 and 11 of this magazine, where
we also report on the commemoration of
one of Acton’s fallen heroes. A flagstone
Shall they return to beatings of great bells
In wild trainloads?
A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,
May creep back, silent, to still village wells
Up half-known roads.
These words will doubtless reverberate
inside my head when I observe the
two minutes’ silence at a service on
Remembrance Sunday, this 11 November.
p.s. I was pleased to be able to help a
local organisation supporting armed
forces veterans recently – see page 30.
You may remember I used my Leader’s Notes in September’s magazine to
address the issue of air quality and how we, as a council, were going to use
our new transport strategy to help attack this problem. It is an incredibly
serious issue, with Londoners’ lives being put at risk by pollution, and you
can read about some of what we are doing on pages 20 and 21.
around ealing October 2018