On the 22nd May, 1941, HMS Gloucester, 14 miles north of Crete, was attacked by German Stuka dive bombers and sank, having sustained at least four heavy bomb hits and three near-misses. Of the 807 men aboard at the time of her sinking, only 85 survived. Her sinking is considered to be one of Britain’s worst wartime naval disasters.
One of those killed was my Uncle Bill, my Dads big brother. At the time, my Dad was serving in the RAF, where he remained until 1946. Every year, on Remembrance Sunday he would take me to the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle, look up his brother in the Book of Remembrance, bow his head for 2 minutes, then pull his shoulders back and say “right, son, fancy a play on the cannons”.
And that is how it should be. The mawkish Me! Me! Me! outpourings over the last month (because Remembrance Sunday lasts longer than Christmas these days) is absolutely sickening. The BBC has been the worst, as their media whores try to outdo each other with tales of long dead, distant relatives they never met, bravely wiping away a tear, as it becomes all about them.
Of course we should remember, but it doesn’t have to be a self pitying, selfie taking circus. Bow your head, take a breath, and go play on the cannons.