The small village of Herodsfoot in Cornwall is doubly blessed. In fact it is one of only 14 villages in the entire UK with a very special claim. A miraculous claim to feel both doubly lucky and doubly thankful for.
Over the past few years as a nation we have collectively marked so many terrible anniversaries in the 1914-1918 war. Especially the poignant moment that that terrible conflict was finally over. The moment the guns fell silent. And you had either made it through or you hadn’t.
From that moment on the men who had survived started to slowly return to their homes and the country started the long and painful process of coming to terms with the devastating loss that the past four years had dealt.
In Herodsfoot things were a little different.
The village huddles in a deep valley, not far from the coastal town of Looe is linked to the outside world by narrow winding lanes. It still feels a world away from modernity.
On the small village green, like so many other similar villages across the country, there stands a small war memorial. But this is different from any other village cenotaph that I have ever seen. All the names on this memorial are of men who came home.
Around 700,000 British soldiers were killed in World War I. But in Herodsfoot every single man that left to fight in the so called Great War and every single man that left to fight in World War II came home again. The village didn’t loose a one man.
So the granite cenotaph here is a tribute to the sacrifices war forces us to make but it also gives thanks for the safe return of Herodsfoot’s men.
After World War I there were a total of 54 villages that hadn’t lost any of their menfolk. They became known as the ‘Thankful Villages‘. And after the fighting of WWII there were just 14 villages in the entire UK that could claim not to have lost any men in either conflict.
Herodsfoot is one of those ‘Doubly Thankful Villages’.