All Our Yesterdays

Spalding's war memorial
Spalding's war memorial

by MP John Hayes

In his famous poem, John MaCrae wrote ‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row/That mark a place.’

In towns and villages throughout South Holland and the Deepings – from Long Sutton to Crowland; Market Deeping to Pinchbeck – there are monuments that mark a place to remember those who lost their lives in the First World War. They are a vital link to our past.

In the gardens of the glorious Ayscoughfee Hall stands Spalding’s war memorial, designed by the renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, famous for creating the Cenotaph in Whitehall, the centrepiece of the annual National Service of Remembrance.

This year’s hundredth anniversary of the Great War’s outbreak provides a new opportunity to recall, respect and revere those who fought and died, but also offers a chance to reflect that remembering is not a passive act.

Which is why I am working with Ayscoughfee Hall museum, the Spalding Royal British Legion, the Western Front Association and others to raise funds to ensure that this magnificent monument looks as good again as it did on the day that it was unveiled in 1922.

Those leading the work on rejuvenating the memorial, along with volunteers, veterans and young people, will be manning a stall in Spalding Market on Saturday, June 28, to promote the campaign.

We also hope to add the names of those who have been found to have given their lives but were omitted from the memorial. Think, too, of the women widowed in youth by the war and their children, so cruelly robbed of their fathers’ enduring care.

With the last of the brave men who fought in the Great War gone, it is more important than ever to commemorate the heroism of our shared history. Right too that we should all pause to reflect upon the sacrifice made by men from our area who, in far off lands, died fighting for the values they held then and we hold now.

Their courage in the face of German aggression – sadly echoed barely twenty later when my father’s generation fought the Nazis – must never be forgotten. Remembrance is a reminder of how men of all kinds gave their future so that each succeeding generation could enjoy theirs.