As you drive across Northern France and Belgium in your comfortable air-conditioned 21st century motor car, it is easy to forget that one hundred years ago it was a bloody war zone from where hundreds of thousands of young men never came home.
Do we really appreciate the sacrifices that were made by so many in both World War 1 and World War 2 in order that we can enjoy the relatively peaceful lives that we live today?
Teresa O’Hara, a Director of JCP Estate Agents, writes:
‘On a personal note my husband's grandfather was testament to how the British soldiers suffered in World War 1. He joined 'The Manchester Pals' regiment in 1914 and was quickly promoted from a Corporal to a Sergeant. He fought in France from 1915 - 1917 and although wounded was fortunate to be one of the few to survive from the beginning of WW1 to the end. Almost 10,000 men enlisted in the Manchester Pals Battalions of whom 4,776 were killed. The price that James O'Hara had to pay was frequent nightmares when he constantly relived the horrors of the war. Throughout this time he found a deep sense of religion and was known to carry his communion cards and Bible with him throughout the war.’
Francis Winstone-Partridge, another member of JCP Estate Agents, also has a connection to 'The Great War' and comments:
'It is testimony to my great grandfather, George Watts, that I am here today. I can remember my grandmother saying that she was grateful to still have a father and that “his body was awfully shot up”. Having been called up, he contracted German measles, mumps and finally influenza. Following this he was seriously wounded and hospitalised on two separate occasions. On another occasion he was also gassed. Having survived all of this, it was said that this caused him to die at an early age.’
Perhaps we should all just take a moment, as the 100th anniversary of the ending of the First World War approaches, to appreciate how lucky we are to be living in this beautiful county of Oxfordshire which encompasses such scenic areas as the Cotswolds and the Chiltern Hills, not to mention the stunning City of Oxford with its 'Dreaming Spires'.
So… when we are next 'stressing' about our next move on the property ladder, let us be grateful to those who sacrificed so much that we are able to enjoy our properties and our lives. And if you are passing through Belgium, try and visit the town of Ypres, where they still play ‘The Last Post’ every night at 8 o’clock at the Menin Gate, and say a quiet thank you to them all.