Sunday buses

This weekend, we will fall silent, as did the guns on World War One’s battlefields in 1918, and remember our losses in conflict.

There are many among us who abhor politicians who have given spurious reasons to go to war over the last 100 years, but none of us who do not value those who gave their lives – in and out of uniform – to serve their country.

My father escorted WWI veterans and Chelsea Pensioners for several years to battlefields to remember their friends. I remember him saying that, eventually, they dwindled in number, replaced by survivors just 30 years younger, visiting WWII battlefields. More recently, the citizens of Wootton Bassett have lined their streets to welcome home those less fortunate, returning from conflict in the Middle East.

We will all have reasons on Sunday to bow our heads – love, respect, honour, sorrow, prayer. And on Saturday, at 11am precisely, we will all put our lives on hold for two minutes to remember the Armistice. Buses had a huge part to play in both world wars, in WWI seconded to The Front, and evacuating London in 1939. Green Line coaches were hastily converted into ambulances to take patients from London’s hospitals.

Yet even as Germany rained horror upon cities, the buses ran. And something else had happened. In WWI, the shortage of men had first brought women on to bus platforms and behind the wheel, and they have remained an important part of this industry ever since.

I know a great many bus and coach operators have planned to mark their respect for the fallen this weekend. Some are offering free travel for veterans and serving forces, and even for people attending Remembrance Sunday services.

For myself, I will honour the dead by contributing to the welfare of the survivors who, invalided home, follow one act of bravery with another – competing in the Invictus Games, climbing mountains, walking for charity, and once again humbling us.

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