Remembrance Enniskillen Songs of Praise


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Remembrance Enniskillen

Claire McCollum is in Enniskillen, where an IRA bomb exploded during a Remembrance Day ceremony 30 years ago.


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Hello and welcome to Enniskillen

in Northern Ireland

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for a very special programme

this Remembrance Sunday.

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It's a time to remember the men

and women who gave their lives

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in two world wars and other

conflicts past and present.

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Today, Songs Of Praise has come to

Enniskillen in Northern Ireland

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30 years after a bomb exploded

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during the town's

Remembrance Day ceremony.

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We meet those whose Christian faith

has brought hope amidst the tragedy.

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Sean Fletcher meets a woman who

was finally able to give her brother

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a Christian burial more than

70 years after he was killed

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on a World War II battlefield.

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And after losing friends and

sustaining devastating injuries

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in Afghanistan, former

Royal Marine JJ Chalmers

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reflects on what Remembrance Sunday

means to him.

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On this Remembrance Sunday

people across the UK

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will be gathering at war memorials

like this one to remember those

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who lost their lives

in two world wars.

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It was no different in November 1987

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when people here in Enniskillen

came to pay their respects.

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But shortly before 11 o'clock,

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a large IRA bomb exploded near the

crowd of men, women and children.

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11 people were killed on the day

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and a further victim died later

as a result of his injuries.

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But many believe the response

of the local community

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helped to turn the tide

in the peace process.

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Today, the people of Enniskillen and

the surrounding area have gathered

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here at St Macartin's Cathedral

to remember and to give thanks.

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Father Brian D'Arcy

was brought up in Enniskillen

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and went to school in the building

where the bomb was left.

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He returned to serve as

a priest here shortly after

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the events of November 1987.

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It was one of the first days

that I can say I grew up

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because my childhood

had been bombed.

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The happiness, the friendships,

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the noise, the laughs, the teachers,

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it just dissipated in sadness.

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Stephen Ross was only 14

in November 1987.

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He and his friends made their way

up this road

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to the Remembrance Day ceremony.

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You know, even though the event

was 30 years ago, the memories

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are still very vivid of what

actually happened that morning.

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And I just remember looking

at my watch at 10.43 and looking up

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and that split second, literally,

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no sooner had I looked up than

the explosion occurred.

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I heard a sheer noise from behind

and just being thrown forward

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and landing on my face.

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The next thing being pulled

out of the rubble,

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not being able to see

a single thing.

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I just put my hand to my mouth to

not being able to feel my teeth,

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the taste of concrete and blood.

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All the bones in my face

had been completely impacted in.

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They were completely broken

around my eye sockets, my jawbone.

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I lost most of my front teeth.

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Basically, I had to undergo

a four-and-a-half hour operation

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to reconstruct my face

with that wire frame.

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Despite 12 lives being lost and 63

others injured, including Stephen,

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the people of Enniskillen responded

in a remarkable way.

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What we must do, everybody agreed,

was hang together as a community.

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Goodness came through to overcome

the power of awful evil.

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Do you know what, the response

of people was amazing.

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And it was through the response

of many Christians at the time

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that I actually began to see that

being a Christian was about

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a relationship and faith, it wasn't

about facts and knowledge

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and it wasn't about being better

than other people.

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It was about being in the midst

of where people were at

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and drawing alongside them.

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It really brought home to me

the reality of what it was to go

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through a really difficult

situation.

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And realise that, actually, some

good can come out of it, Claire.

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It's a bit like looking

at a piece of a jigsaw.

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When you're in an experience

like this

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you can only see that one piece.

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It's not until years after

the event, and you can look back,

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you can see the bigger picture.

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That's not to say

that I don't get flashbacks of it,

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it's not to say I still have to deal

with stress or depression,

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I still have to deal with

those things ongoing, Claire.

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But my Christian faith helps me

to rise above those situations.

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I live for a living saviour

who's gone through the same

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experiences that I have

and has conquered those things,

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helps me, as a Christian,

to overcome.

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On that November morning in 1987,

20-year-old Marie Wilson

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went to the cenotaph in Enniskillen

with her father Gordon.

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He was injured in the blast.

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Marie lost her life.

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Gordon died in 1995.

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His widow Joan

still vividly remembers

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the day they lost their daughter.

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The shock was enormous.

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Gordon was sitting

with his shoulder dislocated

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in great pain.

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It was my painful duty

to go down and tell him

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that Marie had passed away.

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And on the way home from hospital

he said to all of us in the car,

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my son driving,

my daughter beside me,

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"Let's try and be as dignified

and as brave as we can

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"in the coming days."

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The family's reaction would,

in fact, have an impact

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around the world, thanks

mainly to an interview Gordon gave

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less than 24 hours after the bomb.

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I bear no ill will to anybody

nor does my wife.

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It must be very difficult for you

not to feel bitter towards those

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who were responsible

for leaving that bomb.

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I prayed for them last night,

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sincerely.

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And I hope I get the grace

to continue to do so.

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Father Brian knows the family well.

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He didn't come in and say,

"I immediately forgive people."

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He never did say that.

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He said,

"I hold no grudge against them.

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"I am not the judge,

God is the judge of these people."

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And for me,

that taught me that greatest lesson

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I've ever known about forgiveness.

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Forgiveness isn't a flippant word,

it isn't an instant.

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Forgiveness is a lifetime's process.

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About a week after Marie died,

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I just thought,

"I can't go on like this,

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"I just miss her so much."

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And did my usual scripture.

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And the reading from 1 Peter...

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..chapter 4, verse 12 was this,

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"Dear friends", and that stunned me

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because I thought God's listening,

he does hear me.

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SHE READS:

Do not be surprised at

the fiery trial you are suffering,

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as though something strange

were happening to you.

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But rejoice...

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And I stopped there, I said,

"No, I cannot rejoice.

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"How can I rejoice

with this dear girl...

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"..gone from us?"

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And then I read on.

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Rejoice that you participate

in the sufferings of Christ,

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so that you may be overjoyed

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when his glory is revealed.

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I knew then that God cared for us,

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he knew what we were suffering

and that carried me along.

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It was a turning point.

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In time, the influence

of Gordon Wilson

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and the influence of Enniskillen

changed the whole picture

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in Northern Ireland,

and it gave people like

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John Hume and John Major,

Bertie Ahern and Bill Clinton,

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all the others who came into it,

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Gordon Wilson showed us

how it was to be done.

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But what a price he

and Joan paid for it.

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What a price.

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She was gripping my hand

very tightly.

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I was bleeding from the forehead,

I knew I'd hurt myself.

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But I was assured that she was

all right, she told me twice.

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She told me again, but she still was

screaming in-between times

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and I couldn't understand why,

on the one hand, she was telling me

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she was all right,

on the other hand she was screaming.

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When I asked her for the fourth

or fifth time, she said,

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"Daddy, I love you very much."

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Those were the last words she spoke.

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I shall never forget them.

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# I didn't know that today

would be our last

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# Or that I'd have to say

goodbye to you so fast

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# I'm so numb, I can't feel any more

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# Praying you'd just walk back

through that door

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# And tell me

that I was only dreaming

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# You're not really gone

as long as I believe

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# There will be another angel

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# Around the throne tonight

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# Your love lives on inside me

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# And I will hold on tight

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# It's not my place to question

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# Only God knows why

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# I'm just jealous of the angels

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# Around the throne tonight

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# God must need another angel

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# Around the throne tonight

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# Your love lives on inside of me

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# And I will hold on tight

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# It's not my place to question

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# Only God knows why

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# I'm just jealous of the angels

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# Around the throne tonight

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# Singing hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# I'm just jealous of the angels

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# Around the throne

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# Tonight. #

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Today is also when we remember the

huge loss of life in two world wars.

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The pain for some bereaved families

was made worse

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because the bodies of their

loved ones were not found.

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Sean Fletcher has been

finding out more.

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Ronald Blackham went off to fight in

the Second World War as a teenager.

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His sister Alma was only six

when the dreaded telegram came.

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I went with Mum to the door

and he passed it to her

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and she just lifted it up

and looked at it

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and collapsed on the floor

in front of me.

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What did it say?

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It just said

"missing, presumed dead".

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And her reaction...?

0:17:550:17:57

Suffered a severe stroke.

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She couldn't speak for six weeks.

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She never really recovered.

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The family had received

bad news about Ronald

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but you didn't know where he was,

you didn't know what had happened.

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No.

Did the not knowing

make it harder?

Definitely.

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We didn't know where to go,

no celebration of his life.

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But the story took a

dramatic turn just last year

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when Alma's family got a letter

from the Ministry of Defence telling

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them of a discovery on a Second

World War battlefield in Italy.

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The Joint Casualty

and Compassionate Centre

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were informed by the

British Embassy of remains.

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12 soldiers were missing

from that battle.

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We then took DNA from

the remains in country

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and we then looked at tracing family

and an appropriate DNA donor.

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A mouth swab was taken from a

family member to compare to the DNA

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sample from the remains.

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It was a clear match.

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Alma's nephew Mike

was the first to get the news.

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I came up to see Alma

and brought some flowers.

0:19:050:19:08

Erm...

And it was all very emotional.

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We all stood there, the three of us,

Chris and him,

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crying our eyes out in the

middle of the kitchen floor.

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With Ronald identified last summer,

20 members of his family made

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the journey to Italy to attend

his funeral 74 years after he fell.

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It was a tremendous honour

to conduct Ronald's funeral.

0:19:350:19:39

It was a tremendously moving day.

0:19:390:19:42

To see the family gathered there

to really remember

0:19:420:19:45

one of their own,

who paid the ultimate sacrifice

0:19:450:19:48

in the business of war

for the purposes of peace.

0:19:480:19:52

All the service that went with it,

six guys carrying the coffin

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and one walking in front

with the cap badge on there,

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it was brilliant.

It was.

Couldn't have been better.

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It made you so proud.

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All that emotions over the years,

wondering how and why,

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and that's put an end to it.

0:20:100:20:13

He is at last resting in peace

and I know he's safe.

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John James Chalmers

served in Helmand as a Royal Marine

0:22:130:22:16

in 42 Commando.

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But in May 2011,

0:22:180:22:20

he sustained devastating

injuries in a bomb blast.

0:22:200:22:23

But he didn't let it hold him back.

0:22:230:22:25

Going on to represent his country,

he won four medals, including gold,

0:22:250:22:29

at the Invictus Games.

0:22:290:22:31

Sean went to meet him in Edinburgh.

0:22:310:22:33

This was my dad's church

when I was a kid.

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In fact, I was kind of,

not literally born here,

0:22:360:22:39

but I was born into the manse here,

the first kid ever.

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The pulpit here, that was

a rocket ship when I was a kid.

0:22:420:22:45

SEAN LAUGHS

0:22:450:22:47

Because my old man was a minister,

you know,

0:22:470:22:49

this was his office,

as far as I was concerned.

0:22:490:22:52

In 2011, your life was changed,

0:22:540:22:56

turned completely upside down

in Afghanistan.

0:22:560:22:59

Can you talk to us

a bit about that day?

0:22:590:23:01

We had to go out on patrol

every single day, meet the locals

0:23:010:23:04

and try and deliver them

a better quality of life, basically.

0:23:040:23:09

And one particular day we were

tasked with going into a

0:23:090:23:13

bomb-making factory to try and shut

that operation down, effectively.

0:23:130:23:17

Getting those things

off the street was, you know...

0:23:170:23:20

I have immense pride

that we were trying to do that.

0:23:200:23:23

Anyway, we were in this compound,

I was talking to my friend

0:23:230:23:25

and then the next thing I know

I'm on my back in more pain

0:23:250:23:28

than I've ever experienced

in my life.

0:23:280:23:30

JJ's patrol had inadvertently

triggered

0:23:310:23:33

an improvised explosive device.

0:23:330:23:35

The biggest part of my injuries

was to my arms.

0:23:360:23:40

They were pretty well

torn off on that day.

0:23:400:23:43

On top of that, my face was crushed

and reconstructed.

0:23:430:23:46

My legs were full of holes

and full of infection, that was

0:23:460:23:49

the sort of thing that might have

most killed me in the early stages.

0:23:490:23:52

You know, I am

physically disabled now,

0:23:540:23:56

I'm restricted in some of the

things I can do but, you know,

0:23:560:23:59

it's incredible what the surgeons

have been able to do

0:23:590:24:01

in reconstructing them.

0:24:010:24:03

It took the best part of five

years to do that.

0:24:030:24:05

And so, at the point

where I kind of wake up

0:24:060:24:09

and think about it a few days later,

I remember thinking,

0:24:090:24:12

"Wait a minute, there were other

people hurt in that incident.

0:24:120:24:15

"Where are they?"

0:24:150:24:17

At that point

I'm told two of my friends

0:24:170:24:19

and our Afghan interpreter

had been killed in the blast.

0:24:190:24:22

JJ's friends,

who were killed that day,

0:24:220:24:25

were Lieutenant Oliver Augustin

0:24:250:24:27

and Marine Samuel Alexander.

0:24:270:24:30

To protect his surviving family,

0:24:300:24:32

we cannot identify

their Afghan interpreter.

0:24:320:24:34

This blast was, you know,

0:24:350:24:38

horrific enough that it's taken

three people's lives.

0:24:380:24:40

If there was ever a reason

to keep going, this is it.

0:24:410:24:44

Every day a stack of cards

would arrive.

0:24:460:24:49

They were from church communities

mainly and they were just saying,

0:24:500:24:54

"Listen, we're here and

we're rooting for you.

0:24:540:24:57

"We've heard what's happened

and we're praying for you."

0:24:570:24:59

So, for me, that was this moment of,

"You're not on your own

0:24:590:25:03

"and here's somebody else

who's taking time and effort

0:25:030:25:08

"out of their life

to wish you better.

0:25:080:25:10

"So there's another reason to make

sure you're going to stare down

0:25:120:25:15

"the odds and come back

from this stronger."

0:25:150:25:17

It's Remembrance Sunday. Has this

day taken on a new significance

0:25:190:25:23

since that dreadful day in 2011?

0:25:230:25:25

In some respects, every single day

has become more poignant

0:25:250:25:28

because there's not a single day

that I don't think about my friends

0:25:280:25:32

who lost their lives.

0:25:320:25:34

But actually,

it's not just about not forgetting,

0:25:340:25:37

it's about truly having a moment

to reflect and remember.

0:25:370:25:40

But, for me, all of a sudden

it becomes far more personal

0:25:400:25:44

because, when I look at a memorial

and you read the names,

0:25:440:25:47

there is no

denying that's entirely changed

0:25:470:25:50

when all of a sudden

it's happened to somebody you know.

0:25:500:25:54

And there's more thoughts on those

lost over the generations

0:28:070:28:11

in this poem for remembrance

by Christian poet Dai Woolridge.

0:28:110:28:15

To the trench diggers, barbed-wire

bargers and front-foot chargers

0:28:170:28:22

To the privates, lieutenants

and camped-at-war tenants

0:28:220:28:27

To the ones who didn't

make it back alive

0:28:270:28:30

May they know John 11:35.

0:28:300:28:33

To those who know loss

of their soulmate

0:28:340:28:37

To the ones who not yet know

their fates

0:28:370:28:40

To the thinkers,

feelers and mind-blockers

0:28:400:28:44

To the bedridden and rage-driven

0:28:440:28:47

To the unforgiving and unforgiven

0:28:470:28:50

To those whose joy

was long left behind

0:28:500:28:54

May they know John 11:35.

0:28:540:28:56

To those who fight for what is right

0:28:580:29:01

To those who long to reunite

0:29:010:29:04

To those who know

their time is close

0:29:040:29:06

To those who know that pain the most

0:29:060:29:09

To those who feel

there's nothing left

0:29:090:29:11

To those fighting

until their final breath

0:29:110:29:14

To the cancer bearers

and the cancer carers

0:29:150:29:18

To the Last Post players

and hopeless full swayers

0:29:180:29:22

To the light searchers

0:29:220:29:25

May they find at the end

of the tunnel is John 11:35.

0:29:250:29:29

To those who brave

with lung-filled pain

0:29:310:29:33

Or wonder why the world

is still the same

0:29:330:29:36

To those who've given up on faith

0:29:370:29:40

To the ones that feel

that nowhere's safe

0:29:400:29:42

To the ones who see

through a suffering mist

0:29:420:29:46

To the ones that doubt God exists

0:29:460:29:49

To the screamers, tearers

and silent speakers

0:29:490:29:54

To the guilt-built

and shame-keepers

0:29:540:29:57

May they know that he weeps with us

0:29:570:30:01

To those who replay trauma

in their mind

0:30:020:30:05

May they know John 11:35.

0:30:050:30:09

May we all know John 11:35.

0:30:110:30:15

We come now to our final hymn

as we remember those

0:30:200:30:23

who have gone before us

and the sacrifices they made.

0:30:230:30:26

The words provide great comfort

as we ask God to be with us

0:30:260:30:29

whatever we may face.

0:30:290:30:32

From Enniskillen, goodbye.

0:30:320:30:34

In a special programme, Claire McCollum is in Enniskillen where, an IRA bomb exploded during a Remembrance Day ceremony 30 years. Viewers will hear inspirational stories of hope and faith, including the story of Gordon and Joan Wilson, whose daughter Marie was the youngest victim. Joan recalls how her husband's deep Christian faith inspired his famous words hours after the atrocity - 'I bear no ill will to anyone' - which many believe helped the peace process.

Sean Fletcher reveals how the MOD is helping relatives of servicemen declared missing in action and meets Alma Williams from Cheshire, who is finally able to bury her brother 74 years after his death.

Music:

O Christ the Same - St Macartin's Cathedral, Enniskillen. Be Still My Soul - All Saints' Church, Cheltenham Jealous of the Angels - performed by Jennifer Bostic O God Our Help in Ages Past - St Macartin's Cathedral, Enniskillen I Vow to Thee My Country - Royal Garrison Church of All Saints, Aldershot Abide with Me - St Macartin's Cathedral, Enniskillen.