The Somerset Guardian, 6th November 2018

This week I attended a Service for Parliament to mark the Centenary of the end of the First World War in St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey.

The First Reading was by the Speaker of the House of Commons. It was the speech made by the then Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, announcing that an Armistice had been called at eleven o’clock on 11th November 1918. He proclaimed that MPs would go to St. Margaret’s Church ‘to give humble and reverent thanks for the deliverance of the world from its great peril.’

The service that I attended was organised to give thanks to all the soldiers who fought to protect us, with 264 Members of Parliament serving as well as 323 Peers. Tragically, twenty-two MPs and twenty-four Lords sacrificed their lives and former Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith (later Earl of Oxford and Asquith) lost his son, Raymond, at the Battle of the Somme. Sitting quietly at the back of the Church was Raymond’s grandson and local man, Lord Oxford. I am sure that the service must have been particularly poignant for him.

The First World War affected every family in Britain in a way that is now hard to imagine. As one of the deadliest conflicts in history, the total number of military and civilian casualties was circa 40 million. It changed our understanding of democracy, principally how security and liberties should be balanced. It also saw the mass introduction of women to the workplace. Their commitment to the Home Front was borne of courage and hard work and kept the country going in the absence of the men who were fighting so bravely on our behalf. They saved our freedom and so we will remember them.

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