THEY may be a generation apart but Jack Clifton and John Dickson share a personal experience of war, adding poignancy to this year's remembrance.
Jack, 87, who resides at Kingsway Nursing Home, Dunmurry, was an RAF fighter pilot who carried out extensive bombing in the jungles of Burma in the 1940's while home manager John, 40, served in the South Atlantic during the early 1980's and more recently saw action as part of a specialist medical unit closely supporting troops under Colonel Tim Collins in Iraq.
Both men agree it is appropriate to remember the fallen from all generations who have served in conflict.
|John Dickson manager of Kingsway Nursing home who served in Iraq during the Gulf War.|
In August 1944 Jack joined 146 Squadron preparing for operational duties and commenced operations against the Japanese, flying the Thunderbolt.
Not only did he survive a crash in a Tiger Moth aeroplane when carrying out an air test but on March 24 1945, he was forced to land near the Irrawaddy River and was captured by a Japanese patrol.
He escaped and was re-captured by another patrol but managed to get free at night and finally reached a British patrol the next day. Talking about his experiences of war the brave pilot said: "For those who have experienced conflict first hand, the effects can he enduring and sometimes even haunting but that experience has shaped us in the knowledge that right and freedom must triumph over that which is tyrannical and oppressed democratic freedoms."
As the two men prepare to remember all those who have served for their country, John commented: "It is a privilege to manage a team of people who put respect for our elders as their primary aim. All our residents here are unique with their own experiences and stories to tell and my staff value them all."
A RETIRED Lisburn clergyman, Canon Alex Cheevers, has led the Sunset Act of Remembrance at the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres in Belgium - a ceremony that takes place every night to remember the Fallen of the First World War.
And in the same ceremony, Mr. Brian Hagan, from Dromore, laid the wreath.
"The evening ceremony is very simple, but very moving,' explained Mr Cheevers. "It is the highlight of many people's visit to the town and the battlefields. Before 8pm the crowds of visitors assemble, and then at 8pm the local police come out and stop all traffic from going through the Gate. The local buglers from the Last Post Association march out.
"There is a short introduction and a bugle call. Generally wreaths are laid, often by veterans' associations or Royal British Legion Branches who are visiting the town. Sometimes there is a special feature at the Ceremony. For instance, in the recent past Garvey Silver Band did a short performance. 1 "But however simple or otherwise the ceremony may be, the buglers always play the Last Post, the Silence is observed, and then the buglers play Reveille. And a few minutes later the traffic is again restored to normal. After the ceremony, people tend to spend some time reading the names inscribed on the panels of the Memorial Gate. They are under their Regimental names. The 36th (Ulster) Division and the 16th (Irish) Division served and died side by side in the Salient."
Talking about the evening when he led the Act of Remembrance, Mr Cheevers said:
"While I have often attended as a visitor, it was something special to be able to pay my own tribute to the fallen by being able to lead the Ceremony that evening. It was made particularly meaningful that evening by having Brian Hagan from Dromore lay the wreath.
"Brian served in the Royal Artillery, and his mother's two great-uncles, Patrick Moore and John Moore, were killed in the First World War, one in the Dardenelles and the other at the Somme. I was pleased to see someone from home being able to honour his own family in this particular way.
"It is humbling to realise that every night in life the people of Ypres, joined by visitors from all over the world, pause to remember all Those who have no known grave, and pay their tribute to them. Even in the midst of winter when my wife and I have been there, the ceremony still goes on and the visitors still come. The man in charge of the ceremony is there every night in the year. What commitment.
"The Ypres Salient takes in Passchendael and Messines. Around a quarter of a million men died in the relatively small area of the Salient in those four years. And behind every name on every headstone or Memorial, there is a story of heartache. And a family that was devastated. Those men deserve to be remembered. And their families deserve to know that we do remember them - remembering them not just now ai Remembrance Sunday, but throughout the year."
Mr Cheevers organises tours to those places where history was made. Next year he will
be leading two tours. In May he will be visiting the Somme and the D Day landing beaches and in September he will be leading a tour group to Ypres and Passchendael.
If you would like further details you can contact Canon Cheevers on 9269 0701.
A remembrance service in Hillsborough many years ago
HILLSBOROUGH Old Guard are holding a memorial exhibition to acknowledge bravery of those people from the Hillsborough area who lost their lives or served in two World Wars.
The exhibition will be held in the Market House in Hillsborough on Saturday, November 10 from 11am until 4pm.
Members of the Hillsborough Old Guard will also be visiting the Somme battlefields in May next year and part of the trip will include a visit to Martinsart where a memorial was dedicated
this year in memory of a group of soldiers from the Hillsborough area who were blown up in the village square by a stray shell while waiting to move out to the . battle front.
The tour will also visit Ypres and Menin Gate, as well as Ulster Tower at Thiepval and the Museum of Albert. The tour will cost around £399.
For further information or to book a place on the tour, contact John Palmer on 9268 2462 or 07707186957.
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