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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

101 Years On, Tameside Still Remembers

Friday, 01 November 2019


The month of November is one of the most solemn on our nation’s calendar, as we again come together to commemorate those brave men and women, both from home and further afield, who laid down their lives in the First World War.

The scale of the slaughter and suffering is hard for minds in the modern era to comprehend.  Over the course of the five years of conflict, it’s estimated that up to between 15-19 million soldiers and civilians perished. Over 1.2 million of those came from here or one of the former colonies, which at the time included Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and South Africa. In the course of one day in the first Battle of the Somme, the British Army suffered almost 57,500 casualties - equivalent to the total population of Hyde and Stalybridge put together - to gain barely three square miles of territory. This was the dawn of industrialised warfare; the machine gun, gas attacks, barbed wire and the grinding horrors of the trenches.

Those who survived those long years of bloodshed and fire swore that World War 1 would be “the war to end all wars”. Unfortunately, as we know from hindsight, armed conflict has continued almost without pause somewhere in the world in the hundred years since. From 9-11th November, Tameside will be paying its respects not only to those who fell in the two World Wars, but to people like Gunner Wilfred Hewitt of the Royal Artillery who died at the Imjin River in Korea in 1951, or Lance Corporal Eric Halkyard who was killed fighting in Vietnam in 1971 with the Royal Australian Regiment. We should also keep in our thoughts the brave men from Tameside who were taken from us in our 21st century war in Afghanistan; Guardsman Tony Downes in 2007, and Corporal Harvey Holmes and Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze in 2010.

 

Every town will be putting on its own parades, wreath-laying ceremonies or services. A complete list can be found on the council’s website here. I would encourage you all to see what is taking place near where you live to pay respects to the men and women of our armed forces, both past and present.

But I’ve always believed as well that support for our armed forces has to go on after the wreaths have been laid and the two-minute silences have ended. Our commitment cannot be for one day a year, but for 365 days a year. Tameside Council has been signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant since 2012, and in the summer we were awarded the Gold Award, the highest badge of honour available under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, in recognition of our support for current and former members of the armed forces in Tameside.

Some of the work we’ve undertaken includes partnering with local GPs to increase the number of former armed services members registered with a healthcare provider. This has allowed us to provide our armed forces veterans with better and earlier care, as well as access to specialised services such as social prescribing groups or assistance with housing and employment.  While it may sound simple, it’s made a real difference for many of our residents.

So as we approach Remembrance Day, let us remember those brave young men and women who put themselves into situations that we could scarcely imagine to preserve our freedom. Not just the freedom from armed conflict and violence, but the freedom to make the choices that will ensure that the next generation of men and women will never have to suffer and die like they did. In the spirit of those who emerged from the mud and trenches and swore “Never Again”, let us pledge ourselves to work towards peace and justice in our communities and throughout the world.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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