Many thanks to David, Son of John McFarland for sending images of the gravestones of the Lammas crew who now rest in Aabenraa Cemetery, having been lost on the 23rd of April 1944. These pictures were taken on the same visit to Gram Churchyard to remember the 4 of John’s crew who were lost on the 18th April 1944.
Perhaps having spent the last couple of weeks working on the reordering of the Roll of Honour, the adding of gravestones to the Roll of Honour and writing about lost crews in support of some of these image donations, I began to feel again the overwhelming sense of loss that I felt when I began to research about Dad and the Squadron. When I say overwhelming loss, in the first instance, this was entirely personal and related solely to the recent loss of my father and mixed up in this was also my painful realisation that having simply left it too late,I would now never know the answer to so many of the questions I now had for him.
As my research progressed however, with the acquisition of the Squadron Operational Record books, I began to understand the brutal regularity of the loss of crew in the Squadron. The brutality of war and death in war is obvious, but it was the cold, clipped reportage of the loss of these young boys in the official pages that struck me – the loss of another 2 or 3 crews on a certain raid became nothing other than a matter of record, no emotion or regret of loss was recorded with the up and down times and the bomb loads carried that night……..
And so to ANZAC day. To be honest, what I was going to post this year was a mystery to me until I realised the work on the Roll of Honour could be edited to present the New Zealand and Australian boys on their day. As I remarked in the ANZAC DAY post, it felt awkward to be deleting the names of the other airmen, even though they still existed on another tabbed page within my spreadsheet document.
I didn’t expect the level of views over ANZAC and the following few days – neither did I expect the number of contacts from people regarding the posts I had made or with a mention of a loved one now gone. I realised, though perhaps obvious, that the sterile pages of the ORB have become perhaps too familiar to me – walking down their corridors I now recognise dates and names and when I see them I know they will not return the following night or the following week – the ORB tells me these things as simple record of fact – a page is turned and a life is lost.
What is actually all too easy to forget, is that these boys are not forgotten. The reason that we rise at dawn to remember them is simply because we have not forgotten them. They live in the hearts of those of us that live on and their memories are something special to us. We might not understand what they did or how they did it, that they were sick with nerves before flying or were too scared to talk of their fear in case they were deemed unfit to fly – all we understand is that they did it. In doing what they did, our luxury is to be able to remember these acts rather than confront how we might deal with the same. For this alone, we should remember and celebrate their names and their faces, still smiling from those cherished photographs – they will not age as we do, their memory will not fade, as long as we never forget them.
Ake Ake Kia Kaha
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.