Ahead of the Armistice centenary this Sunday, OA colleagues who have previously served in the Armed Forces share what Remembrance Day means to them.
Nigel is a former Royal Navy Commander and now Operations Director at the OA
“The poppy is a focus for the nation on one of the darkest periods in our history, and the amazing sacrifice people made. But, I think moving on, that it’s going to become a reflection not just of the First World War but also the Second World War, and all the other conflicts that have occurred since.
“Moving on from Armistice, I hope it remains the symbol for Remembrance. It’s about remembering all those people who have sacrificed their lives in the UK military services for the last 100 years.”
Fiona is a former Army Officer and now an OA Career Consultant.
“Remembrance Day means many things to me – it’s certainly not about ‘glorifying war’, it’s about what people sacrificed for the freedom of our country over the years, so that we can live the lives we do now. They may have made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives or may have been scarred in some way – either through physical or emotional injury.
“The key person I think about on Remembrance Day is my father – he was sergeant and a surveyor in the Royal Artillery and fought in the Desert Rats during the Second World War. He was blown up in a watch tower in the desert, which was hit by a German Messerschmitt, and must have done something brave because he was awarded a Mention in Dispatches.
“He never talked about it and I don’t think he was physically injured but he was left with emotional scars – he certainly had bad bouts of depression which affected the whole family. But, at the end of the day, he was proud to have served for his country and contributed to giving us our freedom. He was also the proudest father on earth when I get commissioned!”
Lisa is a former Army officer and now an OA Career Consultant.
“I particularly like to recall the poem by John Maxwell Edmonds:
‘When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today’
“When I joined the Army in the ‘90s, it was very rare for people to lose their lives, although one of my best friends from University, Richard Madden, died in Bosnia in 1996 when his tank went over a mine.
This was shocking at the time and hundreds went to his memorial service.
“Iraq and Afghanistan changed everything and death in service became, sadly, much more commonplace. When I served in Afghanistan in 2010/2011, memorial services for those who had died were almost a weekly event. They were sobering and almost everyone knew someone who had been touched by tragedy.
“I think that this made us think much more about the value of their contributions and feel that these sacrifices are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.”
Richard is a former Army officer and now a trustee with the OA.
“My feelings about Remembrance are really gratitude for those who have served and died in defence of the country and the need for the nation and Commonwealth to continue to remember and support those with ongoing mental and physical scars, and their families.”
Chris served in the Army for six years, and recently joined the OA as an Employer Engagement Manager in Bristol.
“For me, Remembrance has deep personal connections. I served in the Army for six and a half years, and I remember the people with whom I served, including those lost in Afghanistan and Iraq. I also remember all Service leavers that have returned home from conflict: some have visible injuries, while others have hidden ones.
“The overriding image I have for Remembrance is the First World War cemetery at Tynne Cott, near Ypres. I took my family there last year, and I will never forget the sight of 11,000 graves all immaculately cared for in perfect rows.”
Helping the officer community for almost 100 years
Having survived the First World War, hundreds of returning former officers were left without jobs or access to financial support. The OA was set up in recognition of the need to provide benevolence and employment support to former officers and their families. Almost a century later, the reason we exist remains the same, but our approach reflects the changing world.