In Memory of Leslie Flavell
We come together to remember the fallen. Those who gave their lives so that we might live in freedom and democracy. In remembrance of the fallen, we should always treasure what they fought for - our freedoms, privileges, democratic processes, and peace.
Remembrance is often viewed as a chance to reflect on the events of four grim years over one hundred years ago. 1914-1918, the Great War, the war to end all wars. Millions of men perished in the mud of northern Europe.
But remembrance is about more than that. Remembrance is about the fallen - in all wars across the world. Remembrance is about the forgotten wars. The ones that don’t appear in our textbooks or on TV, the battles fought briefly or sporadically over what seems like interminable passages of time.
Remembrance is about wars that were lost, wars that were less than glorious, and wars opposed by many. So we remember the fallen from wars in Vietnam, Korea, Aden, Angola, Somalia, the Balkans, countless conflicts over Afghanistan. One hundred years ago this year, Russia invaded Georgia, and the Irish War of Independence raged, eventually turning into the euphemistically named ‘troubles’ of the 1970s and 1980s
These forgotten wars need to be remembered. Each one in its own right is a lesson for history - a lesson about the greed of expansionism and nationalism. All are a lesson in the futile waste of human life, and a lesson in service to your country
One such man who lived to tell the tale of these forgotten wars and his service to his country is Mr Flavell’s father, Sergeant Leslie Flavell, who sadly died last week at the grand old age of 95.
As a merchant seaman at 16, he witnessed conflicts in Southeast Asia and mainly in the Pacific as protection for the US pacific fleet against submarines. He joined the tank regiment in 1946 and went to Korea at the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. He volunteered for a second tour in Korea and went back home to the UK when the war ended in 1953.
In 1955 he served in Egypt before going home due to the Suez Crisis in 1956. He finally ended up in Nepal in 1963, with the Army pay Corps delivering pension money to the Gurkhas in the Himalayas, who fought alongside the British in the 2nd World War.
His life and excellent service remind us of the need sometimes to place the ego, our pride, and our privilege to one side and fight for what we believe in as a community.
We fight for the right to an education. We stand shoulder to shoulder for each other to stay healthy in these extraordinary times, and within all this, we remember the forgotten soldiers in forgotten wars.