I hate November 11.
Growing up with my mom and dad, both of whom served in WW2, ,it was the only time I ever saw them cry.
Not an ugly in your face sobbing cry but a quiet cry, holding deeply, much pain, pain for those they lost.
My mum explained to me that she and dad had a local they went to several times a week. A local is a pub where friend co workers and spouses go to socialize.
Mum said there were about 50 people who knew each other very well sharing their trials tribulations of every day life, drinking, laying darts, playing cards, talking about the war.
Slowly and steadily the men of the Local were called for service and off they went in airplanes, boats, boots on the ground. Young men’s adult lives would start and often end on the battlefield.
Return dates passed, conversation at the local was about Dylan Jenkins who lost a leg, Gerry Williams whose plane had gone missing, Barry Jones, missing, whose wife had just delivered their first baby while he was out there fighting the Germans.
Over time the patrons at the local diminished and the mood became somber. More pints were ordered, less talk was heard. Soon it was almost all women at the Local. Every man who frequented The White Horse except for a handful of older men, had gone to serve.
And instead of coming home on two feet, every man who frequented the White Horse came home in coffins, or never came home at all.
A testament to the perils of war.
This is what my parents remembered on November 11, their lost friends, broken families, fatherless children.
Years later, my parents remembered every one of those “boys” as they called them, and it hurt. Deeply.
My parents are gone now, perhaps hanging out at the White Horse, Heaven’s version.
And with them, the touching commemoration to these individuals, a classroom size full of men who missed out on living their lives.
But, one year on November 11, I asked my mum to write down their names. And she did. And she and my dad told me about them. Thirty years after they died in war, she and my dad remembered them. Intimately.
So here’s to the boys of the White Horse in Cardiff.
I honour you.
- Barry Jones
- Cecil Thomas
- Harry Haines
- Davey Haines
- Garland Smith
- Robert Brown
- Frank Martin
- Malcolm Harris
- Glen Taylor
- Franklyn Cavet
- Rex Willis
- Jack Long
- Chester Lovely
- George Hammong
- Charles Jones
- Charlie McDonald
- Hamish Nichols
- Wilson Haffer
- Robbie Evans
- Louis Louis
- Sam Morgan
- Charles Morgan
- Ivor Morgan
- Rhys Griffihs
- Peter Driscoll
- Eddie Moss
- Sterling Owen
- Davey Williams-Dodd
- Andy Fitsgerald
- Molly Fitsgerald (took her life when her husband Andy didn’t come home)
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.