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November 11, 2005

At the Eleventh Minute of the Eleventh Hour...

They shall not grow 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.

Laurence Binyon.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.  Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McRae.

If I should die, think only this of me:
  That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.  There shall be
  In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
  Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
  Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
  A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
    Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
  And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
    In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Rupert Brooke.



From around the world:


Every year, less and less veterans are here to commemorate. This really upsets me. When there are no more veterans alive, will we still pay tribute?





More than 416 000 Australians volunteered for service in World War I. Of these, 324 000 served overseas. More than 60 000 Australians were killed, including 45 000 who died on the Western Front in France and Belgium and more than 8 000 who died on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.






'India raised the largest volunteer army the world had ever seen--25 lakh people. This is a fact many people don't know,'' says D'Souza, a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal.

November 11, 2005 in Military | Permalink


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A day to remember. Here are a few select links to quality blogs: Juliette Ochieng, who takes the opportunity to draw your attention to a very worthwhile charity; Hootsbuddy's Place; Kate McMillan; Tim Worstall; and Donald Sensing. And of course... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 11, 2005 9:37:09 PM


>>> India raised the largest volunteer army the world had ever seen...

Gian Singh, VC, who won the decoration in Burma in March 1995, died in Jullundur, Punjab, on October 6 aged 76.

He was born on October 5, 1920.
In a display of personal bravery - allied with tactical acumen - which stands out even in the extraordinary annals of the Victoria Cross, Gian Singh overwhelmed singlehanded a series of Japenese stringpoints during the hard fighting for the Irrawaddy port of Myingyan in the spring of 1945. Although it was a victory achieved only at platoon level, Singh's action had an inspiring effect on those around him which was of incalculable value at a time when General MesservyÕs 4 Corps was experiencing increasing difficulities aa its columns pressed on towards Myingyan.

The approach to Myingyan was across a flat, sandy plain. Dust clouds revealed every movement of armour and infrantry to the enemy who was strongly dug in with his rearguards well protected by cleverly sited artillery. Dry gullies and deep ravines lay at right angles across the line of advance, denying passage to tanks. Many of these were screened by thick undergrowth and afforded ample opportunities to ambush the attacking forces.

On March 2, 1945, Singh's unit, the 4th Battalion 15th Punjab Regiment, was advancing down the road between Kamya and Myingyan when it was pinned down by accurate artillery and machinegun fire directed at it from a series of strongpoints and foxholes located in tree-screened positions. Naik (ie corporal, as he was then ) Gian Singh, who was in the leading platoon of his company, perceived that a nasty situation was developing in which the whole battalion might well find itself sustaining heavy casualties.

The Japanese defence of their rearward positions had by this time taken on the semi-suicidal huw which had come to characterise their operations as the heady victories of 19424 turned into the bitter defeats of 1944 and 1945. With grenades strapped to their bodies, some Japanese soldiers were hurling themselves into the midst of British/Indian units or throwing themselves under lorries and armoured fighting vehicles.

Summing up the situation with that tactical intelligence which is instinctive in the finest infantry leaders, Singh determined to take out the enemy foxholes before they could inflict the kind of damage that might seriously affect his battalion's attack. Armed with grenades and a submachine gun he assailed foxhole after foxhole, subduimg the defendants with grenades and mopping up with bursts of sub-machinegun fire.

During this breathtaking singlehanded assault, which astounded all who witnessed it, Singh was himself hit in the arm by small arms fire. But he realise that his task was not finished and refused to go to the rear. A cleverly concealed anti-tank gun was still giving trouble and he rushed it and killed its crew with more bursts of fire and further grenades. He then called to the rest of his section who, much heartened by this robust action, followed him down the lane along which the battalion had been trying to advance, clearing enemy positions along both sides of it.

The action, which was in the finest traditions of the Punjabi regiments of the Indian Army, helped to keep up the momentum of the assault on Myingyan, which fell later in the month after further hard fighting. The Myingyan battle was itself a vital component of the campaign against the railway junction at Meiktila, whose capture prised loosed the grip of General Honda's Japanese 33rd Army on central Burma.

Singh's VC was gazetted on May 22, 1945. Although he had sustained quite serious injuries, he refused to be invalided out of the Army, and insisted on participating in the drive for Rangoon which concluded the Burma campaign later in the year. During this he was mentioned in dispatches.

With the partition of India and its Army in 1947, Singh was drafted to the 11th Sikh Regiment in the new Indian Army. He was to participate in further fighting, during the Chinese incursion into India of 1962, and later in operations in Kashmir. In retirement he farmed in Punjab.

The Times - Obituary, 16 October 1996

Posted by: Unity | Nov 11, 2005 12:04:08 PM

It's rather surprising that the commemorations haven't been banned in case they might offend, oh, someone or other.

As a very minor annoyance, I believe that the Laurence Binyon verse begins: "They shall grow not old". That, at least, is how it is displayed on a plaque in the Royal British Legion Club which I visit.

Posted by: The Weasel Bearder | Nov 11, 2005 6:57:09 PM

It matters not when you post this, Tim. It is a fine piece and many will be heartened by it. Plus - it's a damned good read.

Posted by: james higham | Nov 12, 2006 12:53:09 PM