Remembrance Day collective Worship
11th November 2016
Talk from Mrs Hill
I came to your Remembrance service last year, and I was very impressed by your readings and singing.
This is our country's national day, when we remember all the people who died so that we could be free to live our lives. It isn't easy for you to think of people who fought in the two World Wars It must seem like a very long time ago.
Mrs Reid asked me to tell you about the person I always think of on Remembrance Day, even though I never met him. His name was Ronald Jones, and he was my uncle. My grand-mother had ten children, 3 boys and 7 girls ─ my mother was one of the girls and Ronald was the baby of the family. He was born in 1922. His siblings all loved him and my mother always told me that I would have loved him too, because he was always full of fun. The family grew up in Nantwich, a market town in Cheshire, and they went to a school that was very like this one.
In 1942, when Ronald was 19, he joined the Royal Navy to help to win the Second World War, which had started in 1939. He was just an Ordinary Seaman ─ not an Admiral or a Captain! After spending some time training he was ready to go to sea. On 21st December 1942 ─ his twentieth birthday ─ he wrote a letter to his mother. Letters were very important, because people didn't have telephones and of course there were no computers or email. The soldiers, sailors and airmen never put their address on the letters, nor did they say what they were doing ─ in case the letters were seen by enemy spies.
Dear Mam and Dad,
Just a few lines hoping you are all OK at home as everything is in the pink with me. Many thanks for the Christmas cards I have received from home, sorry I cannot get any so I wish you all the best for ‘Xmas’ and the ‘New Year’ at home.
Well Mam I am twenty today, or one score, and I have been thinking that I am knocking along a little now. It does not seem long since I was going to school.
Mother, I am afraid this letter is going to be very short as I have not much time to get it in the post, but never worry about me Mam for everything is OK and the war will soon be over.
Good Night and best wishes to all at home.
The next day was his first voyage. He sailed from Scotland in His Majesty’s Ship Bramble, a mine-sweeper, as part of the naval escort protecting a convoy of merchant ships taking food and essential supplies to Russia through the Arctic Sea. It was December, so it was very cold ─ the decks and rigging of the ships became white with ice.
One of the merchant ships was lagging behind, so HMS Bramble turned back to look for her. But Bramble was sunk by a very much larger enemy warship and went down with all hands: all the 117 officers and men lost their lives.
During that war more than 3000 men were killed taking supplies to Russia. The Russian people were very grateful for the food, and seventy years later it was agreed that their government would award a special medal to the sailors from those convoys who were still alive.
At about the same time, the British government awarded its own new medal, the Arctic Star, to all ─ both living and dead ─ who had served in the Russian convoys. In 2014 I received the medal for my uncle and I have it to show you.
I also have the certificate that was awarded by King George VI (our present Queen’s father) to all schoolchildren when the war ended, to thank them for their part in the war effort.