Church of England Diocese of Coventry St Mary Warwick

Warwick Poppies mentioned in Parliament

12 Nov 2020, 11 a.m.
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Here is an extract from the speech made by our local MP Matt Western.

“It is a pleasure to follow the Hon. Member for Wrexham (Sarah Atherton), who clearly has so much knowledge about life in the services. Today is an important day to pay tribute to our armed forces for their service and ultimately their sacrifice, for the conflicts they have fought and for the work they have done throughout the world to preserve peace and to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone and other countries, and for the important civil work that they have done, not least on our islands with Covid-19. Sunday was not a normal Remembrance Sunday. It was important that we paid our respects, as always, to show our gratitude. Normally, it would be an opportunity to meet veterans such as Len, Stuart or Paul, as I would have done last year to talk about some of their experiences, or even Rusty, who is now getting very old but is one of our great, gallant airmen of yesteryear.

In Warwick, we would normally see hundreds of people around the war memorial, honouring the 358 men and one woman from Warwick who died in the Great War, and the subsequent 112 who lost their lives in World War II. We would see the march past the war memorial and hear the sound of the local bagpiper, Andy Wheeler, and the last post played by a bugler from Warwick School.

In Leamington, there are 550 names on the war memorial from the first war, and many hundreds following from the second war and subsequent conflicts—all courageous, all gallant. Among those names, there are recipients of the Victoria Cross: Lance-Corporal William Amey, Captain Arthur Kilby, Lieutenant John Cridlan Barrett, and perhaps most significantly Private Henry Tandey, the most decorated British private soldier of the first war, who in the space of six weeks in the autumn of 1918 was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal, a Military Cross and the Victoria Cross.

I want to recognise his near neighbours, just down Kenilworth Street from where he grew up: the Tims brothers, Fred, William and Jack, all lost in the same conflict. I want to remember in particular their mother Esther and so many families who lost so many.

The strength of feeling was best illustrated by Warwick Poppies in 2018; 62,500 hand-knitted poppies decorated our church at St Mary’s in Warwick. The scale of loss is perhaps best illustrated by a map produced by the Leamington history group that showed every household across the town that had suffered a loss in the great war. It was virtually every house in those terraces in the centre of Leamington, and some of those houses had ​multiple stickers. That map showed how communities were literally decimated: so many towns, villages and cities, if they had maps, would show the same.”

(Source: Hansard, November 11, 2020)