10 November 2017
Hanover residents ready to remember on Armistice Day
This year marks the 99th anniversary of the armistice that saw the guns of the Western Front fall silent, ending four long years that had ravaged Europe and led to the loss of more than nine million soldiers.
To help commemorate the many family and friends who have lost their lives in conflicts since the outbreak of the First World War, Hanover residents across the UK have been raising memorials ahead of Remembrance Day.
In Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, Hanover residents have helped create a six-foot-tall backdrop depicting a scene from the Second World War. The striking display - which has been inspired by images from during The Blitz – has been complemented by beautifully hand-knitted remembrance poppies made by the residents. Keen knitter, 82-year-old Christine, said: ‘To this day I will never forget the sight of the barrage balloons and the sounds of the air raid sirens alerting us to take cover. I was really pleased when Jan asked me to get involved with the project after years of suffering from arthritis in my hands. It was great to be able to pick up a knitting needle and make poppies for this worthy cause.’
A colourful new centrepiece at an Extra Care Housing development in Stifford Clays, Essex, is the work of Lucy Gooch, one of Hanover’s housing professionals who was inspired by the highly popular ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ art installation at the Tower of London. She has created a display using hundreds of poppies from the local Royal British Legion, giving residents a special tribute that helps them commemorate all those who have died serving their country.
Residents include 96-year-old Daphne and 90-year-old Joyce. During World War Two, Daphne worked in a munitions factory in Hertfordshire, while Joyce was one of the Land Girls, serving in the Women’s Land Army and carrying out agricultural work, such as milking cows and picking fruit.
L-R: Daphne, Lucy and Joyce
Both women are very passionate about Remembrance Day and the role they played in supporting the war effort, with Joyce fondly recalling that she liked to sing while she was marching, something that would often get her into trouble with her sergeant. Speaking about the fact that the poppy has a special significance for residents, as many were directly affected by the Second World War, Joyce said: ‘I am very proud that we are continuing to remember those who lost their lives.’
Meanwhile, the clock tower and nearby trees in Nailsworth have been adorned by thousands of knitted poppies to commemorate the fallen. The eye-catching project in the picturesque Cotswold town has been driven by Margaret, a resident at a Hanover estate, who enlisted neighbours at the retirement estate to help produce the sea of red, along with her fellow Nailsworth Knitters and hundreds of others who answered the call for the handcrafted poppies, including people coming from as far away as Scotland.
Now living at a Hanover Retirement Housing estate in West Sussex, one resident, Malcolm, grew up on a farm in Kent as a child during WWII. It was there, in 1941, that eight evacuee children from London’s East End were brought to live. ‘Most of them had never seen a live animal before,’ reminisced Malcolm. ‘They were nervous of mixing with us and would hardly venture out in what was a completely new world for them.’
There was a balloon site on the farm to make it hard for the Doodlebug V1 flying bombs to get through without snagging their wings. ‘We boys spent a lot of time around the camp,’ said Malcolm. ‘The amount of food they had made our eyes pop out. I had many hot dogs and things which were luxuries to us in those days.’
Bomb damage to the Kent and Sussex Hospital, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Photo © IWM (D 1064) shared and re-used under the terms of the IWM Non Commercial Licence
While the Battle of Britain continued to rage in the skies above England, those on the ground continued to carry on with as many normal activities as possible, including school lessons and even exams. Malcolm said: ‘Soon after Dunkirk all children were issued with gas masks. They came in cardboard boxes and we had to take them to school where we had gas mask exercises, getting them on as quickly as possible and carrying on with our lessons.’
Hanover resident, Malcolm
Margaret, who lives at Hanover Extra Care Housing estate in Hackney, returned with her brother to Deal in Kent in 1943, after having been evacuated to Dover. ‘We had many air raids and my school took a direct hit with a bomb in the lunchtime break,' recalled Margaret. 'Two of the boys were killed and more children were injured and taken to hospital. After this we had a few weeks off and then we had school in the church. Later on a large house became available and we were able to have a few more classrooms, which made life a little easier and learning much better.’