A time to remember

08/09/2013 12:38

A Time to Remember

It’s not very often that a room full of people can be brought to a dead quiet, but this happened twice last weekend; once at the Lodge St George Bahrain festive board and then the following day at a lunch meeting in Sandyacres.

On the first occasion, at the festive board, Bro. Peter Laker rose to announce that he had recently received the Arctic Star medal

The Medal was issued this year to commemorate the tens of thousands of men who seven decades ago stood at Loch Ewe fearful they might never again see the shores of Britain; a remote inlet in the northwest Highlands of Scotland, it was the starting point for the Arctic Convoys on their treacherous journeys to the Soviet Union during the Second World War.

Described by Winston Churchill as the 'worst journey in the world', these men were risking their lives running a gauntlet of German warplanes and U-boats to keep the Red Army fighting on the Eastern Front.

Bro Peter spoke briefly of the convoys, but more at length regarding the Late W. Bro. Dr. Don Allen, who had served on twelve such convoy journeys, asking especially that we remember him when we pause to remember “Absent Brethren”. That toast, later that evening was delivered with sincerity and respect by our Junior Warden Bro. Mick Strachan, recalling Bro. Peter’s words and the memory of W. Bro. Don.

The next day saw friends and family of Bro. Peter gathered to celebrate his 91st Birthday; we had a wonderful meal and afterward Bro. Peter rose to thank all those present for coming.

Bro. Peter then again spoke about the men of the Arctic convoys and the award of the Arctic Star, and this time aligned their late recognition with that of those who served in Bomber Command, including W. Bro. Vic Ward who was at the meal.

All present rose briefly to acknowledge the sacrifice given by these and others in conflict acknowledging that “we will remember them”

Earlier this year a memorial stone was unveiled at Loch Ewe to commemorate the service of those men who served; upon it are inscribed these words:

“In memory of our shipmates who sailed from Loch Ewe during World War ll. They lost their lives in the bitter arctic sea battles to north Russia and never returned to this tranquil anchorage. We will always remember them”

In the words of the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

Last weekend was a time for good friendship, fellowship and A Time to Remember; we who were there are all the richer for having been privileged to share in that time.

Bernard Foad