Sunday, 1 November 2015

We Remember - benches for Remembrance Day

We remember that November 11 is Veteran's Day in some countries, also known as Remembrance Day in others.

We remember the blood spilled on battlefields all over the world.

We remember those battlefields.

We remember that freedom often has to be fought for.

We remember that a lot of us have forgotten this.

We remember those we have loved who fought for freedom.

We remember the passage of time and make a bench for the new millenium. 

We remember glory days, however long ago they were.

We remember some things and not others. I can't for the life of me remember the day the gas mains were installed. Just as well the bench is there to remind me.

We remember lots of things, but maybe not the world's first internet bench.

We remember romantic encounters on benches. 

We remember achievements, like this bench for the Wright Brothers in Dayton, Ohio.

We remember people by giving them a bench with a plaque.

We remember people we love in all sorts of ways.

We remember all that they have done in their lives.

We remember places that were important to them.

We remember so many people that sometimes the benches look like they are trying to crowd each other out.

We remember people we don't know, whose bench we are sitting on. Who could sit here and not think about Steve?

Or Simon.

We remember to stop and stare because Kathleen Root's bench in Southwold gives us a nudge to do so.

We remember days of sorrow, like the day in June 1903 when the town of Hepper, Oregon was consumed by a flood. It was a small town and nearly every family lost someone.

photo by Miggy's Mum

We remember the force of Hurricane Katrina, strong enough to blow a bench onto the roof of a house.

We remember the power of the sea and the lives it has claimed.

We remember natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis.

We remember catastrophic events like the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

We remember September 11, 2001 through the stark beauty of these modern benches at the Pentagon.

We remember casualties of wars all over the world. These benches are at the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester.

We remember civil wars where families turn against each other.

We remember the many who were lost in the Korean War (1950-1953).

We remember that in Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses row on row.

We remember the animals who are victims of war.

We remember that they had no choice.

We remember people deported to concentration camps from an ordinary train station like this one in Amsterdam.

We remember acts of heroism and tenacity of spirit in the face of adversity.

We remember monumental battles, like the Battle of the Bulge from World War II.

We remember the love of them who came not home from the wars.

We remember to stop and reflect on a simple remembrance bench like this one at Sanquhar in Scotland.

We remember those we have shared experiences with in times of war and peace. 

We remember servicemen and women and their sacrifices.

We remember the contribution of volunteers when it was most needed.

We remember those who kept the home fires burning.

We remember the survivors, like this Chelsea Pensioner in London.

We remember to pay tribute with flowers.

We remember to pay tribute with memorial benches like this Marine Commando seat in Martin Place in Sydney.

We remember to remember, on November 11th each year.

Lest we forget, we remember. 

Sandown, Isle of Wight

Remembering Edwin Jacobson, who fought in World War I


Stuart Williams is Smudgerstu, who is a writer, photographer and historian working in The Black Country of England. He took the gorgeous photo of poppies on the green bench at the Bloxwich War Memorial in 2009. His photostream is at He has the best photos I've seen of the new, amazing Birmingham public library.

The photograph of graves is from a visit Mungo and I made to Flanders in 2008. We visited the Menin Gate in Ypres, where the names of 54,896 soldiers who died without graves are inscribed. Another 30,000 who died without graves are listed on the Tyne Cot memorial outside town. We also visited a few of the 150 cemeteries in the area. The photo is from Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery near Poperinge, where there are 10,000 graves, mainly British but also French, Germans, and Canadians. One Canadian German is buried with the Germans and has a maple leaf flag. Americans, New Zealanders and Australians all have their own cemeteries.

The glorious field of poppies is from the Somme and Flanders Fields collection of Flickr member TT24813055 World War I claimed 37 million lives, including 8.8 million civilians. In addition there were 19.7 million wounded.

The Freedom is never free veterans' memorial bench is in Hutchinson County Texas. The photograph was taken in 2008 by Billy Hathorn, made available on WikiCommons at

The Sorry badge is from National Apology Day in Australia in 2011. National Apology Day is a day on which Australians remember the Stolen Generations of Indigenous Australians through wearing a native hibiscus flower to show solidarity for remembrance and healing. It was photographed by Mark Binns at butupa, who has full sets of photographs from National Apology Days and and National Sorry Days in his photostream at The next National Apology day will be February 13, 2014.

The 2000 Millenium bench is in Newtown, Isle of Wight. Miggy and Mungo were riding their bikes there one day when it suddenly appeared outside the church. A more beautiful or peaceful place than Newtown cannot be imagined.

The Glory Days as Rockfield Best Kept Village 1971 is a photograph taken by Pauline Eccles in 2009 for Geograph. According to Wikipedia, a best kept village is a village that has won one of the annual county competitions in the UK for its tidiness, appropriateness and typicality. The competitions have been nationally organized by the Campaign to Protect Rural England for nearly 40 years. Rockfield is in Monmouthshire in southeast Wales and its Welsh name is Llanoronwy. Its glory days photograph is at Nowadays it is better known as the site of a country western music festival. 

The installation of gas mains in the village 2005 Mortimer Common was photographed by Graham Horn for Geograph. I often find treasures like this in the Geograph photos. Mortimer Common is a village near Reading in West Berkshire.

The bench with flowers overlooking the sea is a memorial bench for Paraic Casey, who died while swimming the English Channel in July 2012. The photograph is from Paraic Casey's swimming club friends at For the full story of swimming benches and a tribute to swimmers, see

The world's first internet bench was photographed by Keith Evans in 2006. The bench is in the Abbey gardens in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk which is, coincidentally, where one of my dearest friends lives. There was no wifi in those days so if you wanted to go online you plugged into one of the two telephone connectors installed on the bench. WK

Leonard and Ethel's Pritchard romantic bench is a true celebration of a long marriage. What a nice contrast it makes with all the death and suffering elsewhere.The photo is from Mands at

I found the lovely Wright Brothers bench at Lisa Rickey is a young archivist professional in the Miami Valley in Dayton, Ohio. She knows a thing or two about Wright Brothers benches in the area and reckons there are nine; I'm sure she's right as she has documented all of them on her blog at And in case you don't know who they are, Orville and Wilbur Wright conducted the world's first successful airplace flight onDecember 17, 1903 in Kittyhawk, North Carolina.

Jeffrey Lawrence Chandler was clearly a truly loving and irritating man, otherwise why would he have such a wonderful commemorative bench plaque. It was photographed by Stephen Rees in 2010 on the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, British Columbia. Stephen took the trouble to find Jeffrey Lawrence Chandler's obituary, which says that Jeffrey was a commercial fisherman whose greatest joy was making people laugh. Stephen, a retired transport economist, lives in Vancouver. He has some other great benches in his photostream at

The Richard Whibley bench is on the harbour in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. Richard Whibley was a local lifeboat man who lived a life of travel and adventure. It's fitting that he should have this lovely memorial poem on a bench opposite the Yarmouth lifeboat.

Stuart Lee lives in London and travels widely. He has thousands of pictures of people and places, among them the beautiful curved bench in Bristol. This bench commemorates the merchant seamen who have always been an important part of Bristol's history as a port city. Stuart also took the first photo on this post, which is a bunch of flowers tied to the Bristol bench. His photostream is at

Steve's bench is in the churchyard of Christ Church in Colbury in Hampshire,UK. It was photographed by Matt, who photographs lots of graveyards, cemeteries, tombs, and cities of the dead. Oh, and cats. Matt has some beautiful cats.

Simon's memorial bench was photographed in 2013 in Duncombe Park in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. The photographer is Beth, who lives in Edinburgh. Beth is passionate about travel, art, architecture, nature, and geography; this is reflected in her beautiful travel albums. I love the Scandinavian ones.

The Kathleen Root bench is in Seacroft Garden, Southwold in Suffolk, photographed in 2007 by Habitat Girl from Atlanta. The lines are from a much-loved poem called Leisure, by William Harvey Davies: What is this life if, full of care/We have no time to stand and stare. Habitat Girl is well travelled, as shown in her 85 sets of fabulous photos at She describes her occupation as a chief handwringer. Hmmm. Probably rather than handwringing her leisure time would be better spent stopping and staring at the view from Kathleen's bench.

The crowd of benches is facing the harbour at Seahouses, a town in Northumberland which is halfway between Newcastle and Edinburgh. It's sometimes known as the gateway to the Farne Islands. The photographer is David Lally, who took the photograph in 2008 for Geograph.

The Days of Sorrow monument commemorates victims of the flash flood flash flood which swept through the small town of Heppner, Oregon on June 14, 1903. It killed 247 people, including some of my ancestors, who were pioneers in the Oregon and Washington Territories. As natural disasters go, it's a small one, but I've included it here to illustrate the thousands of devastating events that occur throughout the world and are known and remembered only by those involved. The photograph is by Miggy's Mum, who makes periodic pilgrimages to Heppner and her roots in eastern Oregon.

The photo by Infrogmation in New Orleans is the bench on the roof of a houseafter Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Infromation has documented the devastation of his home town in photos such as this. Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest and most costly natural disasters in US history. Over 1,800 people died inthe hurricane and subsequent floods which swept New Orleans and the Atlantic coast.

The memorial bench to surfers was photographed by Gregory Melle from British Columbia, otherwise known as Canada Good. Maybe not surprisingly, Canada Good has some good photographs of Canada in his photostream at There are stunning winter scenes but also photographic slices of landscapes and life from his travels all around the world. The memorial bench was in Santa Cruz, California in 2001.

Jane Holland was one of the 290,000 who perished in the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 26, 2004. Her memorial bench is along the river Thames in Richmond near London. The bench was photographed by Peter Denton in 2008.

The photo in Hiroshima in Japan was taken across the river from the atomic bomb dome. It was photographed by Marc Heiden in 2003 and uploaded onto WikiCommons in 2007 by Gorilla Jones. Boy was the codename for the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Deaths were estimated at 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima, half of them on the first day and others from radiation sickness and other injuries later. The Hiroshima Peace Park and museum commemorates those who died and acts as a reminder of the horrors of nuclear war.

The starkly beautiful modern benches at The Pentagon are government Defense photos from their photo essay 110911-F-RG147-268 at The photographer was by Tech. Sargeant Jacob N. Bailey, US Air Force, who captured the laying of wreaths on each of the 184 benches representing those killed on September 11, 2001 at the Pentagon. This ceremony was the tenth anniversary of the event.

Jonathan Cooper is Casatigeo, who took the stunning photograph of the benches at the Imperial War Museum North. Jonathan is a big fan of street photography and uses a mix of rangefinder cameras, depending on how much weight he wants to lug around. He's a fan of benches so his photostream has some lovely ones

The bench with a book and spade is the Confederate section of the American Civil War cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. The photo is by Roger, who describes himself as an itinerate loafer (in a good way, I'm sure). He has a lot of brilliant photographs of his travels and has a knack of capturing my idealistic view of Dixieland where, sadly, I have never been; it's quite near the top of my To Do list. Roger's photostream is at

The Korean War between North and South Korea took place between 1950 and 1953 and was sometimes referred to as The Forgotten War because of the lack of attention it received. It involved international forces and the loss of 1.2 million lives, including many civilians. The Korean War Contemplative Bench is in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It is dedicated to the 54,246 American soldiers who died, the 8,177 missing in action, and the 389 unaccounted for prisoners of war. The inscription says: The beginning of the end of war lies in remembrance. It was photographed by Tim Evanson at and made available on WikiCommons at

The Delaware Legion cenotaph bench was photographed by TinhutJohn, otherwise known as John P Sargeant. It is one of thousands of cenotaph photos taken for his photostream at The bench is inscribed with John McCrae's famous poem In Flanders Fields. The poem is a rondeau, written during the World War I by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a physician from Guelph, Ontario. He wrote the poem on May 3, 1915, after his friend and fellow soldier died in the Second Battle of Ypres. First published in London in December 1915, it is one of the most popular and most quoted war poems. McCrae survived the WWI battles but died of pnemonia in a military hospital in Flanders in January 1918.

War Horse is the children’s novel, award-winning play, and film by Michael Morpurgo. The story recounts the experiences of Joey, a horse purchased by the Army for service in France during World War I and the attempts of young Albert, his previous owner, to bring him safely home. The War Horse book bench is one of 50 book benches scattered around London in the summer of 2014. The artist is Rae Smiht and it was created by Gerard Strong. It was photographed by Martin Pettitt  and appears in his comprehensive book bench album at

Animals in War is a memorial to all animals in wars with British and Allied forces. Unlike human beings, they had no choice. A sculpture by David Backhouse, the monument is in Hyde Park in London and easily missed amongst the bustle of Park Lane traffic. War Horse has called attention to the plight of horses in war; dogs, donkeys, mules, oxen, pigs, rats, camels, elephants, pigeons, and all sorts of marine animals have also been unwitting victims of war for transport, for bomb detection, or to conceal explosive devices. The memorial inscription reminds us of the misery of war and that animals had no choice.

The benches at Muiderpoort station in Amsterdam were designed by Steffen Maas to commemorate those who were deported from Holland to concentration camps between 3 October 1942 and 26 May 1944. This included 107,000 Dutch Jews, most of whom did not return. The bench was placed at Oosterspoorpleinin 2002 and the poem is by Dutch poet Victor E. van Vriesland. My Dutch isn't very good but I think it refers to a long stream of long forgotten names/long forgotten eyes/Shall we still know/that we forget/are forgotten?The photograph was taken by Brbbl in 2011 and made available on Wikimedia at

The Dunkirk bench depicts The Spirit of Dunkirk, when thousands of small boats were mustered to rescue more than 300,000 troops from the shores of France in May and June 1940. This photograph is from Greg Duce, who saw the bench at the National Arboretum in Alrewas, England, in 2010. Greg has toured many of the battlefields of Europe and has an extensive collection of military, battle, and memorial photographs on his photostream at

The Bastogne Memorial commemorates the Battle of the Bulge, an important battle in World War II. This war claimed 63 million lives, including 40 million civilians. A third of the deaths were in the Soviet Union. The Battle of The Bulge took place in December and January 1944/45 on the Western Front in Belgium, France and Luxembourg and was the costliest WWII battle in terms of casualties for the United States. There were 89,000 casualties, with over 19,000 killed. The memorial was inaugurated in 1950. This image is now in the public domain at

The Sanquhar War Memorial is in a quiet corner of a park in Sanquhar in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. Just out of sight is the curling pond; Sanquhar has the world's oldest registered curling club (1774). Sanquhar is also known for having the oldest working post office in the world. It was established in 1712, though with recent cuts of village post offices all around the UK, I'm not sure it's still there. The photographer is Colin Smith for Geograph in 2009 at

The Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse is at work on the Western Front in France in 1918. The photograph is from the marvelous archives of the National Library of Scotland. VADs were volunteers who trained in nursing and 
First Aid to serve in both world wars. 

The Keep the Home Fires Burning photo was seen in an antique shop window in Freshwater, Isle of Wight in November 2014. This shop, in School Green Road, has gorgeous window displays.

The Old Contemptibles Association refers to survivors of the First British Expeditionary Force of August-November 1914 which fought in the series of Flanders battles to protect the Channel Ports. The motto of Old Contempible chums was 'We'll do it!! What is it?' The last 'Old Contemptible' and the sole remaining survivor of the 1914 Christmas truce was Alfred Anderson, who died aged 109 in 2005.The Old Contemptibles Association shown is the Edinburgh branch and the bench is sited at Edinburgh Castle. The photographer is David M. Jensen (Storkk), photographed in 2004.

The carved wood soldier is one of the newest wood sculptures by Paul Sivell at The Carved Tree. Paul makes intriguing chainsaw sculptures and is inspired by nature, local traditions, and mythology. His distinctive style is well known around the Isle of Wight though he also works throughout the UK and abroad. The soldier is one of his many functional sculptures (benches!) which can be seen at Fort Victoria Country Park near Yarmouth and at   Paul will also be carving a sculpture in remembrance of the 40 Royal Marine Commandos who trained on the Isle of Wight.

The model Chelsea Pensioner is seated on a bench outside the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, London, which is a retirement and nursing home established in the 17th century for former members of the British army. 'In-pensioners' surrender their army pension  in return for a small room (berth), board, clothing and full medical care. The photograph is by Colin Smith in 2007 at

Stuart Williams is Smudgerstu, who is a writer, photographer and historian working in The Black Country of England. He took the gorgeous photo of poppies on the green bench at the Bloxwich War Memorial in 2009. His photostream is at He has the best photos I've seen of the new, amazing Birmingham public library.

The commando seat in Martin Place, Sydney was photographed by Inversehypercube in 2012. It is in the public domain at

The black and white bench with the poppy wreath was taken in Alrewas, England in 2011. The photo is by foxy, who likes benches and has a lot of them in her photostream at

We remember Mungo's dad, who died this year age 98. Mungo's dad trained in Scotland and on the Isle of Wight in the early stages of WWII. He was injured in the Dieppe landings in August 1942 and went on to serve in Siciliy, Greece, mainland Italy and Yugoslovia. As one of the few survivors of his 40 Marine Commando unit, he was honoured to lay the wreath for his comrades at the cenotaph in Sandown, Isle of Wight on Remembrance Sunday.

I have already made the Peace message in a previous blog for World Peace Day in September. You can see it at This Let There Be Peace bench was photographed in 2010 by David Schwartz. It's on his photostream at and he also made it available at Creative Commons where I was delighted to find it.

No comments:

Post a Comment