BONUS: Remembrance 2021 Special- From WW1 to Afghanistan

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Manage episode 306853435 series 2802019
Por Jonny Ball descoberto pelo Player FM e nossa comunidade - Os direitos autorais são de propriedade do editor, não do Player FM, e o áudio é transmitido diretamente de seus servidores. Toque no botão Assinar para acompanhar as atualizações no Player FM, ou copie a feed URL em outros aplicativos de podcast.

In this bonus episode to Remember the fallen, our host Jonny reflects on his personal connections with Remembrance and the connection between politics too. He remembers the fallen of WW1, as well as his very personal experience of repatriating a fallen comrade from Afghanistan- L/Cpl Oliver Thomas.
What is not so well known are the stories of MPs, Peers and Parliamentary staff who served gallantly in both wars. 236 MPs and former MPs, a fifth of the total serving in Parliament served in the armed forces of the First World War, of which 24 of them made the ultimate sacrifice. They lead often from the front. Arthur O’Neill, the MP from County Antrim was the first MP to fall. He was killed on 6th November 1914 in an action near Ypres.

All of Arthur’s three sons grew up to fight in the Second World War and two of them, Brian and Shane were killed in action. The youngest, Terrence went on to become Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

Valentine Fleming was born in 1882 in Newport-on-Tay, Fife, Scotland. He went on to contest and win the seat of Henley in Oxfordshire during the 1910 General Election. Prior to the start of the First World War, he had served as a Captain in the Queens Own Oxfordshire Hussars. As soon as war broke out, Valentine and the regiment were deployed to France by the end of September. He quickly developed a fearsome reputation as a brave and uncompromising leader, entirely devoted to his men and leading always from the front. On one memorable occasion whilst in reserve, he ran through heavy shellfire up to the men on the line to see if they wanted any ammunition. On another, hearing of a private being seriously wounded, he forged forward, bandaged him and personally carried him back to the dressing station in full view of the enemy. By December 1914 he was promoted to Major before becoming second in command by January 1916.

Major Fleming fell on 20th May 1917. During an intense artillery bombardment, Valentine Fleming left the safety of his HQ and made his way up to the front-line trench to support his men and repel an anticipated enemy attack. He never made it. After the enemy had been beaten back his body was found on open ground.

Major Fleming left behind a wife and four sons, the youngest, Ian went on to become an Intelligence Officer in the Second World War and creator of Secret Agent, James Bond.

When you walk up the steps of Westminster Hall, you are confronted with two grand memorials to those Parliamentarians who fell in both world wars. The Recording Angel remembers the fallen of the First World War and the stained-glass window above it remembers the fallen of the Second, 23 of them MPs. It is worth stopping there for a moment to reflect on the ultimate sacrifices men like O’Neill and Fleming made in those great conflicts.

Parliament’s history is interwoven and threaded by a deep tradition of political public service by members of our armed forces. They have served in every political party at every level and at every epoch of our parliamentary history.

The operational experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan has reminded the people of the United Kingdom not only of our service and sacrifice, but also the training, values and professionalism we brought to bear even under the most trying of circumstances. In the last Parliament, around 51 MPs had a degree of military experience, with a number serving on operations.

This cannot go to waste. It is now needed more than ever in Parliament and our Local Government. But for now, we remember. Lest we forget.

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