FOR the benefit of George Hunter's "Irish friends" seeing the poppy as "a symbol of British imperialist violence", the first RAF bomber pilot to die in the Second World War was William Murphy of Cork (his co-pilot Larry Slattery of Tipperary became Britain's armed services longest-captive prisoner of war); according to Yvonne McEwen in Edinburgh University, at least 10 000 Irish combatants gave their lives to stop Nazism (not counting those who were killed working in a medical capacity or as part of the merchant navy); 27 per cent of all Irish servicemen in the Second World War were promoted to NCOs; and Irish membership of the SAS in the Second World War was four times that of the British born.

Britain's armed forces have long been disproportionately Irish in make-up.

Thankfully Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this year has restored long overdue sanity to proceedings by wearing the poppy in acknowledgement of the invaluable sacrifice of many Irish in ensuring what is often a rotten world didn't end up becoming 10 times worse.

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Mark Boyle,

15 Linn Park Gardens,


CAMPBELL Thomas (Herald Obituary, November 9) is to be commended for his fulsome and well researched tribute to the late Bill Young, survivor of 38 Liberator bombing missions. It is apposite that the appreciation occurs in this remembrance period.

Sadly, the maxim of "lest we forget ..." was not shared by his former employers. They did not re-engage the 21-year-old once he was demobbed. Doubtless many shared a similar experience on their return to Civvy Street. It is fitting therefore that all who in time of conflict should be remembered.

Allan C Steele,

22 Forres Avenue, Giffnock.

MY Welsh father-in-law liked to keep written records and I have inherited several of them. I have the little folded piece of paper on which he wrote down the names of the places where he, and his regiment, the South Wales Borderers, were engaged in the First World War. After landing at Boulogne in 1916, until the end of his service in Lille in 1919, he wrote down all the names he needed to remember.

Ypres is there, written twice, and so is Menin Road Ridge, Kemmel (Crucifix Corner), Commines and 42 others, in his handwriting on this 100-year-old precious piece of paper. He survived, but many of his comrades died so I will wear my poppy particularly in memory of the South Wales Borderers, and all other men, and women, the nurses, who were led into that dreadful war, and other conflicts since.

Kenny Macaskill is right when he says “I can’t help thinking that we’re neither reflecting nor learning” ("We all have a duty to learn as well as to remember", The Herald, November 7) Something that comes to mind is the song written by Pete Seeger in1955; Where Have All The Flowers Gone, the last line of which is "oh, when will they ever learn?"

I can still see the gentle old face of Jim Edwards, the quiet Welshman as year after year he wore his poppy to chapel. He was just remembering. For anyone who wonders why many people still remember, and wear the poppies, then reading the book Forgotten Voices of The Great War by Max Arthur, will provide some answers.

Thelma Edwards,

Old Comrades Hall,

Hume, Kelso.

AS we approach Armistice Day, which justly recognises the contribution of previous generations to both our quality of life and to our standard of living, perhaps it is now time to consider whether or not there are not other similar "debts" to the past.

In particular, maybe it is time that the role of slavery in the history of Scotland (particularly Glasgow and the West of Scotland) was publicly both acknowledged and recognised.

Perhaps the nation’s approach to honouring its war dead is a possible model of how this could be done.

The erection of a prominent memorial in an appropriate public space in the city would be a way of reminding present and future generations about the suffering and inhumanity which was involved in creating the wealth which enabled Glasgow to become the Second City of Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Possibly a statue depicting the Unknown Slave would go just some way towards this. This could also help to provide an educational context to particular parts of the city such as the Merchant City and to be a visible reminder to present and future generations of Glaswegians of this chapter of the city’s story.

Even at a time of austerity surely the city has enough of a sense of honour and of its own history to make such a decision.

The costs of such a memorial could, surely, be supported by the Scottish Government and by the National Lottery as well as contributions from the City Council.

If Glasgow were the first to recognise the importance of Nelson Mandela to the ending of apartheid then surely the city could also lead the way in acknowledging and atoning for this dark part of our collective past.

Ian Graham,

6 Lachlan Crescent, Erskine.