Lest We Forget - Remembrance in The Octagon Parish
Many people from the Octagon gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars and in more recent conflicts. During the Second World War a number of people on both sides were killed in action in the airspace above our villages. Littlegreen House was also the home of the distinguished naval family, the Phipps Hornbys, who fought at Trafalgar and other naval conflicts.
The Roll of Honour below shows the names of all those who are remembered on the memorials in our churches. It also include the names of those (from both sides) who are remembered with plaques on the Stansted Estate or in the fields where their planes fell to the ground. In some of our churches you will also find a book giving more details of each of the names, including where they were killed and where they are buried. We also remember those personnel from No.5 Battle Wing, Canadian Training School stationed on the Stansted Estate who gave their lives during the D-Day invasion.
After the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC the Greek lyric poet Simonides of Ceos (556-468 BC) wrote as a memorial to the valiant defenders :
'Go tell the Spartans,
Thou that passeth by,
That faithful to their precepts,
Here we lie'
These sentiments were later used by John Maxwell Edmonds (1875-1958) as part of a collection of 12 epitaphs for World War One:
'When you go home,
Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow,
We gave our today'.
In March 1944, the Japanese 31st Division moved north-westward in Burma, swept through the Naga hills, invaded India, and fell upon Imphal and Kohima. Confidently the Japanese planned to press toward the India Plains. The Allies faced a disaster of monumental proportions unless the enemy could be stopped. A crucial battle ensued at Kohima where some 2,500 British Empire troops came under siege. They fought a formidable Japanese force numbering 15,000 soldiers supported by 10,000 ammunition laden oxen. For weeks the belligerents sparred in bloody artillery duels interrupted only by hand to hand skirmishes and bayonet attacks. Finally, after 64 days, amid terrible losses on both sides, the Japanese were beaten back. They withdrew from Kohima; Japan’s dominance in northern Burma had begun to crumble. Understandably, the determination and gallantry shown by the allied troops in the Kohima siege soon became the subject of poem, song, and legend. Today in the Kohima cemetery, among the 1,378 grave markers, is the famous Kohima Memorial with its historic inscription:
"When you go home
Tell them of us, and say,
For their tomorrow
We gave our today"