Just 21 short years between wars which changed the world

The signal received  by HMS Revenge on the outbreak of war
The signal received by HMS Revenge on the outbreak of war
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Try to remember what occurred 21 years ago. Perhaps a new daughter or son was born?

Perhaps you went to Wembley to see Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday fight it out to a replay when they drew 1-1. Arsenal won the replay 2-1.

Perhaps you might have seen Shane Warne take 34 wickets along with his Australian team-mates who defeated England in the Ashes 4-1.

I want you to think how fast time has gone since then.

Just a month ago we commemorated the outbreak of the First World War that brought four years of misery and death to millions the world over.

You would have thought governments would have learnt but no, despots are always with us and just 21 years after the signing of the armistice in November 1918, we were at it all over again.

For it was on this day 75 years ago – September 3, 1939 – that Britain declared war on Germany once again. Just two score years and one, that’s why I asked you to think about how quickly time passes.

On that morning at 11.15, prime minister Neville Chamberlain announced that the 11am deadline given to Germany to withdraw troops from Poland had passed.

With Germany ignoring the ultimatum, a state of war then existed between the two countries. France had also called on Germany to withdraw and declared it was also at war from 5pm that day.

And so it was that just 21 years after the first, another war had begun to bring an end again to so many lives around the world.

Franciszek Honlok was the first person to die in the war when German soldiers took over a radio station and left his murdered body on the scene in pretence that it was the Poles who had overrun the station.

On board the battleship HMS Revenge, based at Portland, the signal came through at 11.46am and written in block capitals said: COMMENCE HOSTILITIES AT ONCE WITH GERMANY.

What the company of 1,000 thought about it can only be imagined, especially among the older men who had fought in the previous conflict.