Remembrance reflection by Rev Simon Cash at Dewsbury Minster

I recently saw a notice which read “2020 was bad, but 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 were worse”.

Sunday, 14th November 2021, 7:00 am
Rev Simon Cash, Team Rector at Dewsbury Minster, at the war memorial on Longcauseway

It made me reflect upon whether that was indeed the case.

I cannot speak personally of those earlier years as I was not born, but looking back at the history of the time, I hope I can at least imagine what things might have been like and whether indeed the notice was speaking truth.

When the British Government gave Germany a final ultimatum to withdraw its troops from Poland on September 1, 1939, and two days later announced a state of war with Germany, nobody knew what was likely to be involved and more importantly how long the war that followed was going to last.

When men and women were called up to serve in the armed forces, there must have been deep concern from those who were left at home about whether they would see their loved ones again.

On top of that, what were those who were called up thinking? What would they face? Would they return home at some point?

As it happened there were more than 700,000 British military casualties. On top of that were more than 60,000 British civilian deaths.

Those who did return came back scarred with the memory of seeing things that nobody should ever have to witness.

Overall, it is believed that between 50-70 million people died as a result of the Second World War.

Add to this the economic impact and subsequent need for recovery, I think it is fair to say that even though the war itself lasted only six years, the after-effects have taken a long time to recover from.

Fast forward to 2020 and the outbreak of the coronavirus, nobody really understood the extent to which this virus would spread and how devastating it would be.

It was only as time has gone on that we have been able to see the true effects of the spread and how it has impacted upon people’s lives.

Sadly, as in the war years, many people have lost their lives and families have been torn apart.

Thankfully the introduction of the vaccines has helped to reduce the number of people contracting the virus and limited the number of deaths.

That said, it is reported that there are currently still more than 250 million cases of coronavirus in the world today and more than five million people have died as a result.

While we are not able to fully know the impact of the virus, compared to the war years, the economy certainly in this country appears to be in recovery and while we have witnessed food shortages on our supermarket shelves, the majority of these seem to be more to do with Brexit than the virus.

All in all, even though the coronavirus pandemic has been hard for many, I cannot help but think that as the notice I began with says, the war years were worse.

Add to that perhaps the most important thing of all; with the coronavirus there was no threat to our security and freedom.

Surely, this is why it is of the utmost importance that we keep reminding people of the need to remember the sacrifice that was made by so many which means that we are free to live as we do today.

Lest we forget.