LETTER: Sound of silence over World War Two

A British soldier pays his respects at the grave of a colleague near Cape Helles, where the Gallipoli landings took place.
A British soldier pays his respects at the grave of a colleague near Cape Helles, where the Gallipoli landings took place.

THE commemorations of 100 years since the commencement of the First World War and the bombardment of the Hartlepools are now behind us.

Leeds University, together with the Friends of Stranton Cemetery, held a commemorative day at Hartlepool College of Further Education.

The Heugh Battery held its commemorative parade, on the Headland, and Hartlepool Borough Council unveiled a memorial to the civilians from both Hartlepool and West Hartlepool who died as a result of the bombardment.

However, I am amazed at the silence and perhaps lack of interest that now exists in the Hartlepool area, especially as we are fast approaching the anniversary of a memorable event in British history.

The memorable event in British history to which I refer is that 70 years ago, on May 4, 1945, at Lüneburg Heath, east of Hamburg, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery accepted the unconditional surrender of the German forces in western Europe.

This action eventually brought about the cessation of hostilities in western Europe, and eventually brought about the end of the Second World War.

I say eventually because, as neither John Wayne, Errol Flynn nor Audie Murphy were present at Lüneburg Heath on that memorable day, the Germans had to surrender all over again on May 8, to the Americans.

It was declared last year that the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings was to be the last public commemoration of that event because of the age of those who took part.

A 20-year-old soldier, sailor, airman or marine who took part in, and survived, the Normandy landings will, on this 70th anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in western Europe, be celebrating their 90th birthday.

It was also decided that the recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz would also be the last commemorative event, again because of the age of the few that are left who survived this atrocious act of barbarity.

Yet how silent are the voices within our council, and others in Hartlepool, when it comes to commemorating something as precious as bringing war to an end, peace to our country and allowing our men and women – wounded in body and soul – to return home to their loved ones, while leaving friends and comrades behind lying in some foreign field?

This silence I now hear reminds me of a few words from a poem by Rudyard Kipling:

“For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, and “Chuck him out, the brute!”

But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country,” when the guns begin to shoot.”

Edward Powell,

Birchill Gardens,

Hartlepool.