REMEMBRANCE Day has come round again, and on Sunday parades and services will be held around the world to remember those who died in two world wars.
Last year, I was in Australia for the day and joined in with the local commemorations in Cowra, New South Wales.
I also visited the Australian National War Memorial in Canberra. With my brother, Ernest, I was able to pay tribute to a cousin who was in the Australian forces and died in Japanese hands.
One of the special customs that the Australians have is that the whole remembrance parade turns to face west at the sounding of the Last Post. On the sounding of the Reveille, the parade turns to face east.
At home, with the recent deaths of the last survivors of the First World War - William Stone (108), Harry Patch (111) and Henry Allingham (113) - a service is to be held on Sunday at Westminster Abbey, to mark the passing of a generation and as a tribute to all those who lived through that war.
It will also commemorate the involvement of the civilian population in the First World War, which is also known as the Great War. The service will be attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
My late father was one of the lucky ones who survived that conflict, serving from the outbreak in 1914 to the armistice in 1918.
He was once wounded by a sniper's bullet and had to have hospital treatment, otherwise he saw service with the Royal Artillery throughout.
He would not tell us children too much about the war, except for suffering from 'foot rot' - contracted through not being able to take off his boots in the wet trenches - and the troops suffering the effects of a gas attack. Similar stories have been told over the years in families up and down the country.
It is not until a visit is made to the war cemeteries in Belgium and France, that the enormity of the losses sustained in the Great War can be appreciated.
The Thiepval Memorial, in the middle of the Somme battlefield in France, records the names of more than 72,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom and the Empire who are believed to have been killed but have no known grave.
The memorial, built on a rise just outside the village of Thiepval, stands stark against the skyline.
It was designed by the renowned architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens. There is another huge memorial called The Menin Gate at Ypres, Belgium, in the Flanders battlefield.
During the war, the 'gate' was a gap in the town's ancient fortifications through which many of troops passed, never to return.
The famous memorial records 54,896 names of the missing. Occasionally, the remains of soldiers are uncovered through farming and construction work. They are given a proper military burial and, if they can be identified and are recorded as missing, their names are removed from the memorial.
One of the great sights of the area is the Tyne Cot War Cemetery at Zonnebeke in the Ypres battlefield. It has the graves of 11,954 Commonwealth servicemen.
Sunday's service at Westminster Abbey closes down a piece of our national history, but the sacrifices of the Great War will never be forgotten. Schools are being encouraged to mark this milestone, and think of the 1,700,000 who lost their lives in the two world wars. Hopefully, they will always continue to do so.
May I ask our readers to support their local Remembrance Day services, and to wear their poppies with pride.
From the archives: November 6, 1909
MONDAY morning found the air of the Feltham district charged with rumours concerning cheque transactions in which Mr RT Stewart, the surveyor and inspector of public nuisances to the district council, was involved.
There had been concerns by which well-known local tradesmen were thought to have suffered loss. All through the week, this had been the chief topic of discussion in local circles.
It should be mentioned that, for some time past, Mr Stewart has been in ill health and has been under medical treatment.
A report to the council shows that he was still busy at his post, and the usual instructions were given to him and the customary cheques drawn for disbursement.
This assures the public that funds remain intact and, as Mr Tinnelly put it to the council meeting, the ratepayers have yet to learn what had induced the council to resort to extreme measures.
AT THE Middlesex Sessions, Mr Percy Barlow MP appealed against a poor rate of the assessment committee of the Brentford Union and Overseers, in respect of a residential property.
The case for the appellant was that the value of the property had greatly depreciated in recent years in consequence of the tramway system and the increase in noise created by the shunting operations on the Great Western Railway.
For these reasons, he asked for the assessment to be reduced by £105, or practically one half.
For the respondent, Mr Page KC said this meant the amount paid in rates would be reduced by £73 per annum, which would be a dead loss to the parish.
After hearing evidence at great length, the court assessed the value of the property at gross £160 and rateable £133.
THE Medical Officer for Brentford reported to the district council that during the month of October there had been registered 28 births, 12 male and 16 female, making a birth rate of 20.5 per 1,000.
During the same period, nine deaths had been reported, two of which were of children aged under one year.
There had been no deaths from zymotic diseases. Two inquests had been held. Under the Infectious Diseases (Notification) Act, he had received 14 certificates, scarlet fever nine, diphtheria two, erysipelas three.
The number of cases in the isolation hospital was 13. Ten had been admitted during October and 10 discharged cured, leaving 13 under treatment.
The death rate was again remarkably low, and there had been very little disease in the town. The numbers of scarlet fever cases was rapidly diminishing. No cases having been notified in the last fortnight.
The sanitary committee reported that the hospital was costing £7 13s 3d per week.