Saturday 8 November 2014

Remembrance Stan

Friday 9th May 2014
      It’s the perfect spring morning, a bit chilly. There’s a thin coating of  frost on the ground  even though  there’s wall to wall sunshine in a cloudless, blue sky. The bare winter trees are now dressed in their buds of blossom, some have flowers. It’s really pretty. I’m so pleased the weather is perfect because today, I’m going to France, then Belgium, on the ferry, my first time abroad and two countries!
  It’s a special trip. I’m going to see where my Great, Great Granddad ( Stan) is buried. I’ve seen photos of him. He looked really young and handsome. My Dad said he takes after him. It’s the first time we’re all seeing his grave, Nan and Grandad are coming too. It’s hard getting the family tree in my head. But it’s my Nan’s Grandad. It’s her first time too.
   The ferry crossing is OK. Bit boring but better than school. Missing double maths. Cool. The view is amazing though. I can see the white cliffs even though I’m closer to France. France is no different to home except we’re driving on the wrong side of the road. Dad has sworn a few times and Mum is tutting. Trying to write but feeling sick.
     Journey was OK once Dad got used to the roads. Hotel is awesome. In my own room but can hear Mum and Dad talking, well their mumbled voices anyway. Tomorrow, we’re going to the grave, a place called Ypres, in Belgium. Apparently, the whole town was destroyed. I don’t know much about it as we’re just learning about it in school. Mr Gibbs wants lots of photos and a journal of my trip, saying how privileged I am especially as it’s a 100 years since the war started. I don’t know how I feel. I mean I know Stan’s a relative but I don’t know him. And this war was supposed to end all wars. Well, that worked out well ???
     I really wanted to try frogs legs but bottled it. Just had steak although Dad made jokes that it was  horse. Can’t take him anywhere.
    I’m stuffed and tired, bed cosy. Night, night.
Saturday 10th May 2014.
  Off to Belgium
   Missing Kayleigh’s birthday party today. Not impressed. Was OK with it yesterday as missed school but just been on facebook and seen all the plans and fun they’re going to have. Typical. And the weather is rubbish. And now Mum is having a go about the cost of going on the internet. What’s the point of having a mobile if I can’t use it when I’m mobile????
     Arrived in Ypres. So many chocolate shops!!! Of course! Belgian chocolate. Mum is excited. I’m excited! Grandad has bought me some. I might share with Kayleigh for her birthday when I get back. Might.
    Well, the Belgians have no idea about chips! Mayonnaise! Who has mayo on chips? Where’s the Ketchup??? They know how to serve ice cream though!
    Off to the museum now and grave, Apparently, there’s a special ceremony. Mum say’s out of respect to leave my journal at home and pay attention.
   Oh my God! I don’t know what to say! Mr Gibbs! Everyone should come here!
   I’m alone in my hotel room and I can’t stop crying. Apparently, it was 99 years ago today, TODAY that my Great, Great Granddad, Stan, died. He was gassed! There was a massive ceremony, chememorating commemorating the fallen. Over 59 thousand British soldiers died and my Great, Great Granddad was one of them. I can’t believe the carnage! The mud! The explosions! It was awful what they had to live through. The town was obliterated. I saw a model of the town in the museum of the war. Soldiers apparently disappeared in the mud. Stan had a grave. Some didn’t. They’re out there somewhere. And there’s graves that are unknown soldiers. That is so sad.  Rows and rows of  young men. All dead. Stan was only 19. That’s no age, only five years older than me!
    It was really quiet as we walked among the graves. They were really neat and clean, the grass so short and fresh. People come every day to look after them and that makes me so proud.
   The other thing that surprised me were the fields. So full of bright, green grass and poppies. Hundreds of them. It was beautiful. To think those fields were just mud, full of bodies and death, explosions. I can’t imagine it, even though the museum showed me. It’s so hard to imagine. What it must have been like to actually be there, living it, I just can’t imagine. So brave!
    After the graves, we had dinner. We hardly spoke. We were all subdued. But then we walked to the gate. Every night they have this ceremony. And it finishes with a lone trumpet or bugle playing the Last Post. We all cried. Such respect shown for people they don’t know. I love these people.
     I don’t care about Kayleigh’s party. Because of people like my Great, Great Granddad, Stan, she’s able to have one. I’m so pleased Mr Gibbs is teaching us about this war. It’s 100 years since it started and no one is left, Nan says. We have to remember. I’m going to put my feelings into a poem. Miss James wants a poem for English homework. I’m going to ask for a service of remembrance too. I want people to know how brave Stan was, and all the other soldiers from all over the world.
   It’s so quiet now. I think everyone is asleep. It’s so dark outside. I wonder how Stan felt, in the trench knowing he was to fight with all those guns shooting at him,  and bombs falling around him. How do you walk towards that? To certain death? I bet he was terrified. But so brave. So young. Nan said he loved spring, loved the garden coming to life. I bet he hated it here. I still can’t stop crying and I’m rambling.    
  My emotions are so jumbled.   
  Going to try and sleep.
  Night night Stan, your Great, Great Granddaughter, Megan.