My father fought in the First World War, joining up, illicitly, at seventeen years of age.
He survived the 'Man's War' as he used to describe it but it left an indelible mark on him as it must have done with thousands more.
His first years of service were with the East Surrey Regiment ('Steady the Buffs') and he soon found himself in the trenches of Flanders.
I recall him telling me, with all due modesty, how he survived as a very young (Catholic) male thrust into living at close quarters with what seemed to be the male population of the East End of London.
A rough and ready group of men by all accounts.
Each night he shared a nissan hut with about 60 other servicemen and, before climbing into bed he would kneel and say his night prayers - to a chorus of obscene jeers and boos.
I do not think that I would have had that sort of courage at the age of seventeen, or, indeed, now.
In the trenches, he trained as a signaller and was, for a time, on the staff of the Signals Regiment. During this period he was despatched, along with an officer and two other privates, to camp out in no man's land for a three day period, sending back signals recording enemy movements.
The group was hit by a shell which mortally wounded the officer and killed the two privates. My father was badly wounded by shrapnel in the neck.
Nevertheless, he stayed in the shell hole nursing the officer until he died and sending back information on the enemy.
After the death of the officer he tried to find his way back to his lines carrying his rifle which was useless due to shell damage. He tucked the splintered stock beneath his arm and carried on until he came across a group of thirty or so Germans.
Pointing his defunct rifle at them he commanded them to "Hande hoch!" and marched them back to where his unit was based.
For this he was awarded the Military Medal.
He was then invalided out of France spending seven days being shunted around France in a cattle wagon until, at last, he was shipped back to 'Blighty' to recover.
His parish then was St Margaret's, Canning Town, and his Parish Priest, being of stout Irish stock, counselled him on transferring to the Irish Guards "as the fact is, my boy, they are not sending any more of their troops overseas and it is a Catholic regiment".
Sadly, the first part of the good priest's advice proved to be untrue and within 6 weeks of being classified as fit for service, my father was back in the trenches with the Guards.
In the final few weeks of the war he was commissioned into the Munster Fusiliers.
Two memories stand out from the war tales that he told me.
The first was the way in which the Irish Guards Catholic chaplains went over the top with the rest of the men when the attack whistle blew.
With stoles flapping around their necks, the chaplains ran into fields of deadly fire, responding to cries of "absolution Father" by bestowing the Sacrament of Penance on the troops as they ran.
My second memory is of an occasion when I was showing my Father a book on the Great War.
In particular, I showed him a picture of a battlefield covered by fallen bodies.
"Was it really as bad as that?" I asked.
"No" he replied. "It was far worse, the bodies in no man's land would be two or three deep"
Last week I had a business meeting with an eminent academic.
I wore a red poppy in my buttonhole.
I was shocked and then intensely angry that he sported a white poppy in his.
We owe it to those who died and suffered in both World Wars, to remember their bravery and sacrifice; not to glorify war but to recall the sacrifices that were made.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
We are the Dead. Short days ago
Take up our quarrel with the foe: