Remembrance Trust: The Courage to Remember
In early December 1881, Capt. Charles Brownrigg of the hms London set out in a small boat, the Wave, to inspect an Arab dhow traveling through the Kokota Gap off the west coast of Zanzibar, Africa. Accompanied by 10 other men, Captain Brownrigg was determined to inspect its papers and understand the ship’s purpose for flying French colors.
As the Wave pulled alongside the dhow, a sailor at the bow of Brownrigg’s boat spied 25 men armed with rifles and swords. As he yelled out a warning to the others on board, the Arabs sprang into the Wave. One sailor wrestled with an attacker, both falling overboard during the struggle. Two were killed outright and three injured at the first volley from the Arabs; another three were driven overboard. This left Captain Brownrigg and his steward.
Brownrigg took a rifle and took one shot before being surrounded by assailants with swords. He then used the rifle as a club, swinging it at his attackers. Soon he was cut in the forehead, the blood from the wounds blinding him, and cut in the elbows and hands. Brownrigg made his defiant last stand until his fingers were cut off, making it impossible to grasp a weapon. As he collapsed at the stern of the Wave, his life was ended by a rifle shot to the chest.
Why did Charles Brownrigg and his men, members of the Royal Navy serving Queen Victoria, die off the coast of a far-flung African nation in the Indian Ocean? Was Captain Brownrigg leading the forceful theft of African resources? Were they the spearhead of white imperialism, imposing their will on the beleaguered inhabitants of Zanzibar?
Today’s woke warriors would have you believe such men deserve to be blotted out and erased from the historical record. But a newly founded charity is working against the tide of these attacks on the past.
The Remembrance Trust is a three-year-old charity founded by Algy Cluff, a former Grenadier Guards officer, a North Sea oil pioneer, African gold entrepreneur and former owner of the Spectator magazine. The organization’s purpose is to restore and maintain the graves and cemeteries of British soldiers, sailors and civilians, who died fighting for the British Empire between the years 1700 and 1904.
The charity was created to fill a vital gap that existed in Britain’s historical record. The Remembrance Trust’s mission is explained on its official website:
Heritage is an important component of a nation’s identity and can reflect the honor, pride and courage of its people. The remembrance of such people is never stronger than in the graveyards of the military. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (cwgc) was founded in response to the First World War but only takes care of graves from 1914 onwards. There is no one organization that takes responsibility for graves and memorials before this date. As a result many of the graves are in poor condition and are in need of repair. The Remembrance Trust has as an objective to find and, where possible, restore these monuments and graves of military personnel worldwide.
The organization has four goals: 1) research and heritage; 2) restoration and skills; 3) education and community; and 4) remembrance and military. These goals are meant to unite the communities around the world by remembering heritage, teaching the next generation, and giving many tradesmen the chance to utilize their skills in aiding a greater cause. The organization actively includes youth in their efforts to restore these cemeteries.
Cluff was formerly chairman of the War Memorials Trust, which looks after 60,000 memorials in the United Kingdom. His new charity has the ambitious goal of restoring graves all over the Earth. The period of focus, 1700–1904, was the time of Britain’s expansion into a world empire. The Remembrance Trust will restore the graves of men who helped build and defend the Empire. This scope extends from the War of Spanish Succession against Louis xiv, the American War of Independence, the struggle with Napoleon Bonaparte, and the period of Pax Britannica.
It is rare in this world to find an organization that has the courage not to submit to the pressure to go along with the “woke” movement. It is refreshing to see a charity have the daring to promote the history that the radical left movement specifically hates and targets the most: the age of British imperialism and colonialism. The Trumpet recently reported on a student association at Oxford University voting to remove the portrait of Queen Elizabeth ii because she “represents an institution responsible for much of colonialism throughout history and the modern era, and these depictions cause some students discomfort.”
All over the English-speaking world, there is an aggressive push to remove statues, memorials and public names of anyone associated with the age of Anglo-Saxon success and expansion. Not only has this idea been weaponized politically, it has been deeply embedded in our educational systems. This woke wave is based on emotional dialogue, generalizations and purposeful ignorance. The architects of this movement have deliberately aimed to keep history out of classrooms. The more ignorant society is, the easier it is for people to accept lies and blanket statements.
The Remembrance Trust was created to combat the woeful lack of education in history. Robert Hardman wrote for the Daily Mail: “As Mr. Cluff points out, he is not doing all this for sentimental reasons but to improve understanding of the past. … It’s a reminder of why and how all these far-flung, largely forgotten graves and slabs matter. They all tell a story.”
Learn From History
One of the restoration projects the trust is working on is the cemetery on Grave Island (also called Chapwani Island), where Charles Brownrigg and some of his crew are buried. The site is overgrown with weeds, and most of the headstones are weathered and cracked.
If you were to believe the woke scholars and media, you might assume these men were agents of evil. But Brownrigg and his men died fighting to eradicate slavery.
Britain abolished slavery in 1807, and throughout the 19th century, it worked to systematically stop slavery throughout its empire and areas of influence. In the 1840s, the British government warned the sultan ruling Zanzibar to stop the slave trade taking slaves from east Africa to Arabia and the Red Sea. Britain formally created an embargo in 1873 and blockaded the main port. Men like Captain Brownrigg were sent to search all slave ships and stop them from reaching their destination. It is these stories that the Remembrance Trust seek to preserve and share.
Not all of the people buried in these cemeteries are heroes, and indeed they do include criminals, slave owners and others. But a vital part of education is remembering both successes and failures. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that God recorded the history of ancient Israel to be an example to learn from. Trumpet executive editor Stephen Flurry wrote in his article “Why Study History”:
[Israel] made a lot of mistakes, but we can learn from those mistakes so we don’t have to repeat the same sins and reap the same punishment. Of course, ancient Israel did terrible things, but as a whole, God wants us to learn from the bad history and then emphasize the good. And we shouldn’t judge those of the past by their own flawed standards or by the flawed standards of the present, but by the one true standard: the unchanging standard of the Bible.
We should learn the positive and negative, and not seek to blot out the past to replace it with a hateful falsehood. The woke wave is destroying our society. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in The Former Prophets: “Our leaders continually show an obsession with their ‘new’ and ‘modern’ ideas—ideas that have been proved over and over throughout history to be failures—and a contempt for history and tradition. That is a dangerous problem—the kind of thinking that destroys nations!”
The Remembrance Trust is undertaking a noble endeavor and will face opposition from the woke establishment for seeking to remember the individuals who played a role in the founding of the British Empire. But far beyond honoring individuals, knowing and cherishing our heritage should point us to remembering and honoring God!
The years 1704 to 1904 are filled with miracle after miracle from God. It is a mistake to not focus on the God behind those miracles. The success of the British Empire is not to the glory of men like Charles Brownrigg. It is to God’s glory! In his landmark book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, Herbert W. Armstrong explained why God raised up the British Empire and why God has been allowing curses like today’s woke culture to destroy that same empire.
There is a spiritual dimension to this woke movement that you need to understand. Satan is seeking to blot out this God-filled history (2 Kings 14:26-27). (This is explained in Gerald Flurry’s free booklet America Under Attack.) It’s essential to understand this spiritual dimension in history if you want to know what will happen in your life in the very near future.
It is refreshing to see a positive story about an organization that has the courage to remember the past. But most of all, we need the courage to remember and cherish God.