The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of this year will mark the Centenary of Armistice Day, one hundred years since the First World War ended.
In commemoration, much is written in history books about the war, providing explanations and reminders of how this life-changing event affected the whole world: warfare on a global scale. We are reminded of the millions who never made it home to their families, loved ones from here and the Commonwealth; many others who supported the war efforts – women in the munitions factories, nurses who joined forces abroad or stayed behind to care for the survivors. Sadly the mental, emotional and physical cost of war has been born by local villages, towns and parishes, cities, by all social classes and societies and all races from around the world.
Closer to home, this marked occasion has encouraged some of us to look deeper into our own family histories, make discoveries and possibly a personal connection to this historic event. I went through family archives and discovered a Soldier’s Roll Sheet that had belonged to my Great Grandfather, Bhulla Singh Gill, who served as a Soldier during the First World War in the 53rdSikhs F.F. (the Frontier Force, later the Royal 3rdBattalion 12thFrontier Force Regiment, commended for their ‘excellent service during the First World War’). His story can now be passed on to future generations of the family – his great great grandchildren. This commemoration has a special meaning to my whole family and they can now make a personal connection to a little part of their own family history.
Today, it is easier than ever to record our own family histories, with first-hand accounts, photos, memorabilia and other artefacts, and with the aid of technology. And it’s important: because to have a better understanding of who we are and where we want to go, it’s helpful to know where we come from. Our pasts often hold the answers we are looking for to those questions, as was the case with the unfolding story of Great Grandfather.
The act of ‘passing on’ stories also helps new generations benefit from the knowledge and wisdom gained in the lifetimes of their forefathers and in this way they can build a better future for themselves and those around them.
On this Remembrance Sunday 2018, we should pay tributes and honour family members who made sacrifices, because of the war or otherwise.
We should always keep their memories and stories alive.
By Balvinder Gill, Co-founder, Storychest 11/11/18