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Remembrance 2018: Robin Bourne-Taylor

Written by Eleanor Sanger, posted on Saturday, November 10, 2018

As part of our commemoration of Remembrance Day and the centenary of the Armistice, we're using our College Life blog to feature the perspective of Christ Church alumni who have served in the armed forces, to shed light on their experiences, thanking them for their service and appreciating the role they have played and the things that they have faced while in this role, whilst also looking at the ways in which their time in the armed forces has shaped their impressions of Remembrance and Remembrance Day. 


Robin Bourne-TaylorRobin Bourne-Taylor matriculated at Christ Church in 2000, and served in the military from 2005-2010. From RMA Sandhurst, Robin Commissioned into the Household Cavalry Regiment in July 2006. He lost someone very close to him, who was killed in Iraq in 2007. He was a Captain in the Brigade Reconnaissance Force in Afghanistan in 2009/10, and was awarded, as part of wider recognition for this unit's performance, the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross in 2010.


What is the significance of Remembrance day to you as a serving member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces? 

I have always been a supporter of Remembrance day since long before my time in the army as it is a time where many nations stand together to reflect. I believe that this mutual respect is very important in today's society. Joining the military and being part of active service only strengthened this tie as it often goes hand in hand with memories linked to friends and family that made a sacrifice for their country. In Afghanistan in the most recent conflict, when a British soldier lost their life, there would be a service in Camp Bastion for everyone on base. Hearing the Last Post in that setting, in the hot desert air, where everyone was very close to it all, attached a lasting memory to the ceremony of Remembrance Day. "Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them." And for me, there was something about this line, as the sun crept over the hessian and barbed wire walls of the camp, that made it very personal.


How do you feel Remembrance day helps the families and friends of those who have seen active service? In particular, what does it mean to the colleagues, relatives and loved ones of those who have been wounded, or those who lost their lives serving their country?

Everyone deals with grief, loss, or injury in their own way, so it is important not to generalise on how Remembrance day affects an individual. Living with grief or injury is a daily occurrence, and at times there may be a risk in marking Remembrance for just one day of the year as belittling to every other day. But overall and particularly in the long run I feel that it is extremely supportive to those who have suffered loss, to show that the public are stopping to think and acknowledge. Laying a wreath in public can also be an important moment for a relative or loved one - it embodies pride and love, and a wreath may remain in place for many months after that day, giving longevity to the moment.


As a serving member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces what is your perspective on the sacrifice of those who fought, and those who fell during the First World War? Do you have a perception of what they endured, which might escape those of us who have never served?

Every conflict is different, and things change very quickly in war, so it is hard to know of one's experience to the next. I certainly look back on the First World War and believe that many aspects would have been harrowing. Where I can relate to some elements of close quarter battle, high pressure, casualties and fatalities, this was within a modern day counter-insurgency. Having the freedom to make choices and adapt makes a huge difference to how a person will experience combat stress - and I volunteered to do what I was doing, there was no conscription. Although I may have a little more insight than some, I would never presume to know what it was like for so many in the First and Second World Wars.