In the block lives one of our oldest Labour Party members, Gerry Carlile (see picture top right in white shirt).
Gerry invited us in for a rest and a chat. On his wall is the picture of his elder brother John (see left) who was killed in action during the Second World War. He had volunteered to serve as a Gunner on a merchant ship which was later sunk by a German U-Boat in the brutal "Battle of the Atlantic". Below is the stark details on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
"CARLILE, Gunner, JOHN HENRY, 1797607. 3/2 Maritime Regt. Royal Artillery. 7th December 1942. Age 21. Son of John Henry and Margarett Cathrine Carlile, of Stratford, Essex".
I believe that John was on the SS. Peter Maresk, which was sunk during 7 December with the loss of all 67 crew. On that same day at least 3 other ships were sunk with a total loss of another 751 lives. I think only 4 men survived.
I imagine that on walls and mantlepieces, up and down the country, there are similar photos surrounded by red poppies. Over 800 lives were lost on that day in just one part of the War. A sobering thought.
Tomorrow, I will be paying my respects and remembering John and the millions of others who lost their lives defending our country. If you live in Newham Click here for details of the commemorations taking place tomorrow.