This time of year is a particularly significant one for all MPs and citizens of the British Isles, particularly those, like me, who have served or serve in the Armed Forces, or whose family members serve or have served. On Remembrance Sunday we will commemorate the fallen, all those who gave up their futures so that we can enjoy ours.
The incredible courage and bravery of our armed forces is one of the aspects of Britain I am most proud of, and this is why I have never missed a Remembrance Day Parade in my constituency since I was elected in 2001. Each year I rotate through the four major market towns in my constituency, and attend the Parade in either Bromyard, Kington, Ledbury or Leominster with occasional visits to the base at Credenhill.
However, this year marks the centenary of the Affair at Huj, in Palestine. It is 100 years since British troops, our Warwickshire Yeomanry led by Col Gray Cheape and the Worcestershire Hussars, led by my Grandfather in what was possibly the last successful cavalry charge in our history.
The cavalry charge at Huj took place on 8th November 1917, after which my grandfather, Major Bill Wiggin, was put forward for the Victoria Cross for his incredible bravery, which I will be commemorating this weekend at the Warwickshire and Worcestershire Yeomanry Museum.
The Warwickshire and Worcestershire regiments near Huj in 1917 numbered no more than 170, and charged 3 separate artillery batteries and some 2000 Turkish infantry, as well as Austrian Gunners. My grandfather was part of the charge against the first battery, and though his men suffered heavy losses, including their Captain, and he himself was wounded in the head and the arm, he rallied the men to lead a charge across open desert towards a second artillery battery.
Thankfully, given the numerical disadvantage, the stunning bravery and gallantry of the British cavalry with swords drawn, forced the Turkish army into full retreat, leaving the route to Jerusalem open for the Allied Forces to march into. This was an significant change to the conflict.
I wanted to write this piece so that those who do not see me in the market towns this Sunday will know that where I am, and be reassured that the memory of our fallen heroes is as important to me today as it ever has been, but also to share with you my personal pride in the example of my grandfather, who charged with 170 men against 2000 infantry, machine guns and 3 artillery formations. I shall be celebrating the bravery and sacrifice of so many more who have served our country over the course of the last century in Warwick with the relatives of others whose family members fought at the Huj in 1917. This will prevent me from attending a constituency Remembrance Parade as usual this Sunday, but I will of course be paying my respects to the fallen of Herefordshire this weekend.
I hope you will join with me in paying my respects to all those who have fought for our values, our liberty and our freedoms over the centuries, and particularly to those who have given their lives so that we can live ours in peace and freedom. We must never forget their incredible sacrifice.
Note: The image is a replica of a painting by Lady Butler, depicting the Charge at Huj led by Major Wiggin on 8th November 1917.