They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
On this day of all days it is appropriate to quote these lines from Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen which has been exclaimed throughout the land this past weekend.
It may not be generally known that he was too old to enlist when war broke out and had not visited the Western Front when he composed the poem as early as 1914. He did later serve in France as a Red Cross orderly.
I have frequently read the whole poem to my neighbours at the Maltings Care Home in Norwich Road and they, like most of us I suspect, have been surprised by its length – seven verses in all.
What I find particularly remarkable is the prescience of the man who, even before the catastrophic slaughter of the war unfolded, had the foresight to envision what was about to happen.
The verse which precedes that which we all know from gathering around our local war memorials, I find especially poignant.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
For the Fallen seems to me to have as much relevance today as it did a century ago.
On the day I wrote this item, Adrian Vertigan, who manages the Salvation Army shop on Oak Street, told me a fascinating story.
One of the volunteers who helps run the enterprise had found a First World War campaign medal in her home, possibly left there by an elderly aunt.
It had no apparent connection with the family and the shop is now displaying the medal in its window in the hope that it might prompt some information.
So in the interests of publicity, here are the details. The medal was given to Leslie E Newby of the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment Depot.
He was a Private and his service number was G69210. Should these details strike a chord with anyone out there, do get in touch with the shop or firstname.lastname@example.org
By the way, an illustrated talk on Norfolk’s First World War archaeology will be given by Claire Bradshaw in Fakenham library tomorrow at 2pm for an hour. Tickets at £2 should be booked with a librarian or by phoning 01328 862715.
n Remember, remember the fifth of November. We certainly do for reasons other than just Guy Fawkes Night. It was on this day 35 years ago that all our belongings from a terraced house in St Peters Road, Lowestoft were transferred to a home of similar vintage in Westmead Road, Fakenham.
I recall sitting in that front room at the time, surrounded by debris with the fireworks going off in numerous back gardens and wondering whether we had done the right thing.
Doubtless you have all experienced similar sentiments after forsaking familiar territory and neighbours for the unknown elsewhere.
It’s one of those moments in life which, for better or worse, can make all the difference.
Thankfully, on reviewing our long association with this town and its community, we were lucky that it was definitely for the better.