As I'm sure you're aware, today is Remembrance Sunday, a day to remember those who fought and died for our country. Being a war-gamer myself and using small figures to recreate battles, you can often end up distancing yourself from the reality, that these toy soldiers represent real people who gave their lives in defense of freedom and, unlike their model counterparts, could not come back for another battle and whose families would never see them again.
We will remember them.
Like many people across the country, I have relatives who died in the World Wars, I never knew them but my Grandparents and Great-grandparents did, people who I did know. They were their parents whose untimely departure had an impact on the rest of their lives.
In WWI, two of my Great-grandparents lost their fathers. The first, a Scot (Ross clan) from Tain who used to make golf clubs for the King who died on the first day of the Somme (Seaforth Highlanders) and the second, from Liverpool who died at sea in the Merchant Navy. I can't quite remember what happened to the second but he didn't die on his own ship, I think he contracted a disease and got dropped off at a port and was then picked up. He was on his way home when he died. Because he hadn't died on his own ship, his family didn't receive any of his pension or insurance money and were left destitute.
In WWII, luckily none of my relatives died but many still saw action. 'Uncle Harry' as we knew him, fought in Burma against the Japanese and was taken prisoner, spending the remaining years of the war in a concentration camp. Upon returning home, he was so tanned and thin, his own family didn't recognise him and wouldn't let him back in the house. Several other relatives were again in the Merchant Navy and those that chose not to fight, still had important roles back home such as Firemen and keeping the infrastructure running by working on the Buses.
An interesting fact for you now... I'd consider myself English but I have a lot of Scottish relatives on both my Mother's and my Father's side and whilst conducting some research, discovered that three of my relatives died fighting the English at the Battle of Culloden!