In the past when I visited English churches, I’ve rarely paid much attention to war memorials. My focus has been much more on older, especially medieval aspects of church buildings. But with this year being the 100thanniversary of the end of World War I, I am making a point to pay more attention.
So two days ago, I noticed a cenotaph style memorial in a small chapel of Beverly Minster. Around all sides are the names of those who died in “The Great War” from the East Yorkshire Regiment. I walked around it and saw all. the. names. From just one regiment.
It was overwhelming. I had to sit down for a few moments to regain my composure.
Us Americans came in late to World War I. And today we frankly suck at history. So most of us do not get how devastating WWI was. But I am at least beginning to get it in recent years. Being in England certainly assists with that. I was chatting with some gentlemen in York, and they told me a big reason the term “Lost Generation” came about. When the English went off to war, they wanted to be together with their buddies and brothers, of course, (And I’ve noticed this desire reflected in some of C. S. Lewis’ letters.) and to a large extent this desire was accommodated. So during some of the worst battles and/or in some of the worst hit regiments, the male youth of whole towns were decimated.
And some of that decimation is documented, name by name, in that memorial in Beverly Minster.