Over the past weekend I attended several remembrance and armistice services in my constituency to remember those whose lives have been lost at war.

I joined services in Blackwood, Risca, Oakdale, Maesycwmmer, Pontllanfraith and the Newbridge cenotaph at St. Fagans to pay tribute to those who sacrificed so much for our country. We also paid our respects to those still living who risk their lives every day to protect our freedom.

Throughout my constituency, from Risca to Crosskeys, as well as the Sirhowy Valley and the Carn Valley, The Royal British Legion has worked hard in their communities to commemorate the fallen. Their giant poppies they have put on lampposts have spread the message far and wide.

It has been particularly encouraging to see so many people wearing poppies this year and contributing to the Poppy Appeal.

Remembrance services are our best hope of appreciating the true consequences of war. Vividly, they remind us of the lessons of the past and to say ‘never again’.

Last Friday, 10th November 2017 marked one hundred years to the day that the Third Battle of Ypres, better known as the Battle of Passchendaele, at last came to an end.

Over the three month battle, around half a million men and boys lost their lives. The small Belgian village of Passchendaele had been damaged beyond recognition, but so were families in towns and villages here in Wales. Three thousand men and boys from Wales who went to fight in the battle never came home.

The war reporter, Philip Gibbs, who saw the battle first hand wrote that ‘nothing that has been written is more than a pale image of the abomination of those battlefields, and that no pen or brush has yet achieved the picture of Armageddon in which so many of our men perished.’

War is not something to be celebrated. We must do everything we can, always, to avoid war. Yet sometimes war is unavoidable, when our brave armed forces personnel are called upon to do their duty. For this we will and must always be grateful.

In memory of those who do not return, the words of Robert Laurence Binyon’s timeless poem,

For the Fallen, are so poignant:“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.”