Suffolk Quakers remember civilian and child victims of war

By staff writers
November 28, 2010

Yesterday (27 November 2010), Quakers in the small Suffolk town of Needham Market held a remembrance celebration with a difference.

Its purpose was to remember and draw attention to civilian, and particularly child casualties of war during the 20th and 21st centuries. Short dramatic presentations sought to bring alive the voices of these victims who are so often forgotten and of the 'unarmed forces' who worked to relieve their suffering

Beginning with the Boer war and the often fatal consequences of confining large numbers of women and children in vast tented camps because they were perceived as offering support and comfort to the Boers, these presentations ranged from 1900 to the present day and included the role of Quakers in witnessing to non-violence and giving practical help to the victims of conflict.

The Allied blockade at the end of World War I led to widespread malnutrition amongst German civilians. Their stories were recounted, along with the experiences of British and American Quakers who set up soup kitchens and clinics in Germany
In 1938-9, the Kindertransport brought Jewish children from Nazi Germany to live with families in Britain. The stories of some of these children and of those who gave them homes were told, followed by accounts of Quaker ambulance teams which accompanied Allied armies into the concentration camps in 1945.
During the Vietnam war, a disabled and housebound Friend from Ipswich was deeply affected by the image of nine year old Phan Thi Kim Phuc, injured by napalm and fleeing naked from the fighting. She contacted local doctors and pharmacists to ask for donations of medical supplies which were stored in her flat before being sent to civilians in both North and South Vietnam. Her story was also told.

The final item was a presentation on Quaker sponsored work in Palestine and Israel today.

Geoffrey Brogden of Needham Market Quaker Meeting pointed out that “the armed  forces have their war memorials and Remembrance Services, but the civilian and child victims of war have few memorials or commemoration ceremonies”.


Keywords:remembrance | quakers
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