My first remembrance Sunday

James Cooper

At a very young shiny new curate I was asked to preach on Remembrance Sunday in the parish church. I was terrified - what had I to offer a congregation, where a few had served in the First World War and many had gone through the Second World War?

I was speaking with a parishioner who had been a Japanese prisoner of war, and he offered to tell me of his experience. His wife pleaded with him not too because she knew the trauma of retelling this story would cause him to have nightmare for several weeks. He said he had a duty to make sure future generations knew the story and so it was important to pass it on to me.

He talked of a friend being summarily shot for trying to smuggle an egg into camp, of soldiers dying of untreated malaria and another friend who was staked out in the midday sun with a glass of water just out of reach. What struck me most was his continued bravery that made him willing to suffer again so that a new generation would know the true awfulness of war and seek the way of peace. Every year I tell Ted Pratt’s story remembering and honouring a very ordinary man who was extraordinarily courageous.