The Unknown Warriors

The Unknown Warrior

 

When I was deciding on what to call the book, I remember the first name I had considered was 'The Last Post' as the book is a collection of letters, however, I was in a book shop and came across a book of World War One letters with that title, so that quashed that idea. (Which reminds me, I was always going to get a copy of that book, I'll read it sometime and let you know what I thought of it.)

 

Then, I read what Winston Churchill had said;

 

"This is no war of chieftains or of princes, of dynasties or national ambition; it is a war of peoples and of causes. There are vast numbers, not only in this island but in every land, who will render faithful service in this war but whose names will never be known, whose deeds will never be recorded. This is a war of the Unknown Warriors"

 

So from very early on, back in Autumn 2006, I had the title decided. It was at the top of my word processing file throughout doing the book - THE UNKNOWN WARRIORS.

 

It seemed the perfect title, as throughout the book there is stories from men and women who like so many of their generation served with great bravery, but after the war went back to their ordinary lives. Also throughout the book names are mentioned, brothers, sisters and friends, who lost their lives during the war, Unknown Warriors, and on the front cover my grandmas brother, killed in Sicily, one of many Unknown Warriors of WWII who has no known grave.

 

When Winston Churchill used the term Unknown Warriors, it was in reference to an Unknown Warrior, who had captured the nations heart when he was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey on November 11th, Armistice Day in 1920, two years after the guns had fell silent. He was a British soldier killed during World War One, and was to be laid to rest amongst Kings and Queens in the majestic surroundings of Westminster Abbey, in honour of the countless men who were killed during WW1, and had no known grave.

 

The coffin arrived at Victoria Station on the evening of November 10th, the following morning, the coffin was placed on a Royal Horse Artillery gun carriage pulled by six horses. It received a gun salute in Hyde Park and the procession route was lined by tens of thousands of people standing in silence as it made its way to the Cenotaph. Here the carriage was followed by Royalty and the government to the Abbey. An honour guard of 100 recipients of the Victoria Cross, watched as the Unknown Warrior was laid to rest in the west nave of the Abbey.

 

Thousands of mothers in the decades following the war have stood by the grave and wondered is he mine, is it my son lying here before me?

 

Engraved in brass from melted down war ammunition is the following inscription on the tomb.

 

 

BENEATH THIS STONE RESTS THE BODY

OF A BRITISH WARRIOR

UNKNOWN BY NAME OR RANK

BROUGHT FROM FRANCE TO LIE AMONG

THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS OF THE LAND

AND BURIED HERE ON ARMISTICE DAY

11 NOV: 1920, IN THE PRESENCE OF

HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V

HIS MINISTERS OF STATE

THE CHIEFS OF HIS FORCES

AND A VAST CONCOURSE OF THE NATION

 

THUS ARE COMMEMORATED THE MANY

MULTITUDES WHO DURING THE GREAT

WAR OF 1914 - 1918 GAVE THE MOST THAT

MAN CAN GIVE LIFE ITSELF

FOR GOD

FOR KING AND COUNTRY

FOR LOVED ONES HOME AND EMPIRE

FOR THE SACRED CAUSE OF JUSTICE AND

THE FREEDOM OF THE WORLD

 

THEY BURIED HIM AMONG THE KINGS BECAUSE HE

HAD DONE GOOD TOWARD GOD AND TOWARD

HIS HOUSE