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News > School News > Service of Remembrance 2023

Service of Remembrance 2023

We look to the future, and remember all those who fought and paid the supreme sacrifice.
11 Nov 2023
Written by Huw Richards
School News
CCF awaiting wreath laying
CCF awaiting wreath laying

On Wednesday Christ College held their Service of Remembrance

We are forever indebted to these souls and take oath to stand by their courageous act forever and after.

The choir was in fine voice especially for the anthem - Greater Love Hath No Man by John Ireland. The Last Post & Reveille was superbly played by Bella C .  

OBA chair - Leon Spight (SHB, 87-93) represent the OBA and laid a wreath.

Below are two links which provide an insight into the service which has been conducted since 1919 and the Roll of Honour.

                                   Remembrance 2023

                                   We will remember them

There was a most poignant sermon from the Major Chris Kerr, SSI

On 11th November 1918, Private Arthur Wrench of the Seaforth Highlanders wrote in his diary:
‘I think it is quite hopeless to describe what today means to us. We who will return to tell people what war really is surely hope, that 11am this day will be of great significance to generations to come. Surely this is the last war that will ever be between civilised nations.’
Arthur refers to the Armstice agreement signed between the Allies and Germany which ended the Great War of 1914 to 1918.  When viewed in historical perspective, Arthur’s diary entry is a terrible, tragic irony.  Wars continue to be fought and lives lost in conflict.  In recent times, 457 UK service men and women lost their lives in the Afghanistan campaign and even today, with the ongoing conflict in Gaza, we cannot escape the horror and tragedy that conflict creates.
So it is particularly poignant and never so relevant, that we come together today in our Service of Remembrance to pause, stop and think about those who have fallen in all conflicts, soldiers, sailors, airmen, civilians and indeed service animals.  Some of you may have a personal memory of losing a family member or friend, for some it may be an inherited memory passed down through generations of your family.  Indeed for the school, it is only right that we remember specifically, those Old Breconians, who have lost their lives in the service of their country. 
We remember their selfless sacrifice, the tragic loss of life and the impact these losses would have more broadly on family, friends and the community.  It is important to eternally remind ourselves of the dreadful cost of war, if we are ever to live in peace. 
One of the more visible acts of Remembrance is the wearing of a little wild flower, the Flanders poppy.  It is the symbol of the Royal British Legion but much more than this, across the world it has come to represent the sacrifice of all those men, women and children who have lost their lives in conflict.  But how was the poppy chosen in this way?  It began with the mourning of a death by a fellow soldier in the battlefields of Belgium in 1915.  Canadian doctor John McCrae was so moved by the image of poppies growing in the barren battlefield, he wrote the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
     To mark and honour the sacrifices made, we must also do all that we can, to avoid future conflict.  The act of Remembrance does not serve to glorify the act of war, how could it?  War is horrendous, frightening, dirty and tragic. And we see stark evidence of this every day on our news feeds, however we receive them.  Anyone who has served in conflict will seldom wish to be reminded of it, but they will all, universally take time to mourn the loss of their fallen comrades and please believe me when I say, not just on 11th November each year.  A brief insight to the ugliness of war can be found in a passage from the poem ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ by Wilfred Owen:
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Wilfred Owen wrote all of his revered poems in two years, whilst serving in the trenches of France and Belgium in WW1.  The most promising young poet of his generation lost his life, days before the Armistice was signed in 1918.  
As we remember the sacrifices made, we should also understand that conflict demands the very highest displays of human spirit, compassion and kindness. Indeed the vast majority of honours awarded in conflict, are to those who have performed acts of bravery that have saved lives.  Heroic members of The Royal Army Medical Corps have received no fewer than 27 Victoria Crosses, the highest award for bravery bestowed upon British servicemen and women. 
On this theme of selfless sacrifice being honoured, we should remember a former pupil of the school, who was awarded the Military Cross for an outstanding act of bravery leading to the saving of life in World War 1:
Captain Benjamin Ethelbert Nicholls - Military Cross (and Bar)
Ben, known in school as ‘Inky’ studied at Christ College from 1906 until leaving to work in his stepfathers solicitors office in Swansea.  Ben was made a school prefect and was a promising rugby and cricket player, featuring strongly as a wing three-quarter in the Llandovery match of 1908, where he was reported to be a ‘neat dodgy runner and strong in defence. By 1915 Ben found himself serving on the front line in France where he was badly wounded by two gunshot strikes, taking the best part of a year to recover, in 1916 he was back on the front. It was during this time that Ben acted with the utmost bravery – his citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  A number of men were lying badly wounded in ‘No Man’s Land’ after a raid.  He went to their rescue in broad daylight and succeeded in bringing several of them in.  After dark he went right up to the enemy’s wire and succeeded in bringing in men whom he had been unable to reach earlier in the day.  His courage and pluck were undoubtedly the means of saving many lives. It was separately reported that he saved no less than 14 lives that day.
Peace is a precious commodity; it comes from trust, patience, tolerance and faith. It is not unilateral, it results from mutual agreement and understanding. We can only pray that a mutual understanding is reached to provide peace, in the regions of Ukraine and Gaza. Peace has never been easy to achieve; it is difficult to establish and keep the peace at any level in our society.
Yet regardless of the difficulties, peace must be what we all strive for and the driving force for peace must come from us. It must come from our Remembrance of those who have given their lives in war, those injured in conflict and for their families and loved ones. Peace will not come if we forget and it won’t happen if we wait for others to work for it.
The Poppy is our symbol of Remembrance, but let us remember that through pain and loss that there is always the light of hope, love and faith through Jesus Christ.


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