We must never forget

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IT DOES us all good at this time of year to think thoughts of gratitude for those who have given their lives for us.

Young men who fought for their country, their families their friends.

I don’t think the present generation has any idea how near we were to losing the war and how much different their lives would have been if we had.

It is one thing to wear our poppies with pride during Remembrance Week but how many of us support the local branch of the British Legion?

Even 60 years after the war this small group of volunteers continues to help those who fought in World War II and their families.

It is reassuring, however, to know that local schools are now taking an interest in what happened in the war and the lessons we should learn from them.

This week war veteran Harry Dawson visited schools in Dewsbury to talk to children about his experiences.

These were junior schools and the children listened fascinated to what he had to say.

He didn’t glorify war but Harry believes we should keep our promises to those who lost their lives and that was that we would not forget them.

The British Legion is struggling for members and a lot of branches have closed through lack of support.

It would help greatly if more people joined its association so it can continue the great work it is doing.

On Sunday morning there will be a memorial service in Dewsbury Minster Church and the British Legion has been busy helping arrange it. Members have been out in all weathers selling poppies and delivering wreaths to those who will be laying them at the war memorial in Longcauseway and at Crow Nest Park.

Dewsbury Rotary Club has also been busy delivering collecting boxes and poppies to shops, pubs and businesses.

What would we do without people like them? And yet, organisations like the Rotary Club and British Legion are in danger of closing if more people do not support them.

You might ask, “What has that to do with the war?”. Well I think a lot. People grumble that our way of life is changing but what are they doing to change that?

Young men, and in recent years young women, have given their lives in war because they loved their country and all that it stood for.

Some didn’t want to go to war but once on the battlefield they fought with great courage and many paid the ultimate price.

Whatever is happening in our lives at the moment let us spare a thought, and a prayer, for all the men and women who have given their lives for their country.

THERE are many, many people in Dewsbury today who still remember how war affected their town.

I was born in 1941 and although my memories of it are somewhat vague I do remember going for dinners to a canteen in the Municipal Buildings in Halifax Road.

The canteens were part of the council’s emergency feeding arrangements, to help those whose houses might be bombed.

Our house was never bombed but the centres, once they were operational, could be used by the public at a small cost.

The food was prepared in special centres throughout the town and in the kitchens of local schools.

There were also rest centres set up for those whose homes might be destroyed by enemy action.

Dewsbury Corporation was quick off the mark in issuing an official ‘Citizen’s Handbook’ in the event of invasion.

Holland Booth, town clerk, asked all people, to do their duty and do it cheerfully and unselfishly.

“Accept gratefully whatever additional burdens the present strenuous times impose on you” he said.

MANY people in Dewsbury, myself included, remember gas masks which you were supposed to take with you wherever you went in.

And, of course, there were ration books, the bane of all our lives because it meant we would be getting less food to eat.

The ration books had within them coupons and the Ministry of Food decided how much food each coupon represented.

For children under six, there was a child’s ration book. On the other hand, the allowance of meat for a heavy manual worker was a larger quantity than anyone else.

We were also told to carry with us identity labels with our name and address clearly written on it, and later identity cards were issued.