Saturday, 2 July 2016

If ever there is tomorrow

In which G.M. Norton never forgets.

Yesterday, Friday 1st July 2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme during the Great War. 
I work in Salford and as part of the city’s commemorations; I was honoured to be the announcer that led the tributes for the fallen outside the town hall. 

More than 650 Salford men, including members of the Pals battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers, were killed during the first day on the battlefields. A battle that took the lives of more than a million people from all nationalities.
At 7.28am, a one minute’s silence was held – the exact moment the battle began on 1st July, 1916.
Then at 11 o’clock, it was over to me to begin the commemorations. Walking out of the main door beneath the clock tower, I walked down to the microphone stand and took my position. I was followed by a large group of people that stood on the town hall steps. This included a nurse, firefighter and two town hall workers (to represent the ordinary men and women that suffered during the war) and the Ceremonial Mayor of Salford.
After my introduction, a superb recording was then played. It was a scratchy sound, like an old record, with the stirring voices of Salford men and women that had lost sons, husbands, pals, speaking over the sound of a large tolling bell. Interspersed with this was the A.A. Milne poem, ‘If ever there is tomorrow’ and the 1916 recording of the song, ‘If you were the only girl in the world’ (which I originally know from the 1953 film, By the Light of the Silvery Moon – one of mater’s favourites). 
After the eleventh bell sounded, I then asked the crowd to follow us as we promenaded over to the Cenotaph where wreaths were laid in a silent tribute. 
It was hugely humbling to play a part in this emotion-charged occasion. 
Young men, encouraged to sign up with their pals, signed up for a war that they would never return from. My own great-grandfather fought and died in the Great War, leaving behind a young wife and baby son. A.A. Milne actually fought himself in the Battle of the Somme and was one of the lucky ones to return home. 
I’ll sign off with this poem by Milne, which has stayed with me since hearing it yesterday.
“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you.”A.A. Milne

Always remembered, never forgotten.


G.M. Norton
Protagonist of 'Norton of Morton'


Twitter } { Facebook } { Instagram } { Bloglovin' }  

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely tribute. It must have been deeply moving for everyone involved.

    ReplyDelete