Commemoration events mark First World War outbreak

First World War commemoration celebrations at Broad Street, Stamford. Pictured are WW1 soldiers Adam Cockerill and Jed Jaggard EMN-140408-193309009
First World War commemoration celebrations at Broad Street, Stamford. Pictured are WW1 soldiers Adam Cockerill and Jed Jaggard EMN-140408-193309009
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They came from all around the town - school pupils, housewives, teenage cadets, families and veterans from the Royal British Legion.

Some 800 people gathered in Stamford’s Broad Street for the Festival of Commemoration, the final day of events marking 100 years since the start of the Great War.

Observing a minutes silence at Broad Street, Stamford EMN-140508-110903001

Observing a minutes silence at Broad Street, Stamford EMN-140508-110903001

Among the open air events were a schools choir from Malcolm Sargent, Blue Coat and Stamford Junior schools when children took the crowd down memory lane with a medley of old-time favourites including It’s a Long Road to Tipperary, Daisy Daisy and Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Own Kit Bag.

Charlotte Mills, nine, said she was glad to be singing at the event because “so many people died in that war”.

Rebecca Steele, also nine, said: “We should remember all the soldiers who died because they risked their lives for us.”

Vicki Mills, teacher at Malcolm Sargent, and conductor of the schools choir, whose grand grandfather Cyril Fugill fought in the war said having read his diaries she knows that it is really important to reach children about the awful conditions that the soldiers had to endure.

Mayor of Stamford Clem Walden read out John McCrae’s touching First World War poem In Flanders Fields and said: “Today we remember all those who were lost in War and those that fought for us to show them we are proud of their sacrifice and service: We will remember them.”

He invited everyone present to observe a two-minutes silence before heading to the nearby War Memorial along with Mayoress Patricia Walden to light some of the dozens of candles placed there.

Among those who joined the commemorations was Second World War veteran Cliff Shepherd, aged 101,of Hilary Close.

Asked how he felt watching the events marking 100 years of the Great War, the former RAF Warrant Officer said: “I feel lucky to be here.”
Mr Shepherd had a lucky escape during the Second World War when a shell flew past his head and landed yards behind, killing two men who were with him.

“It makes me feel very emotional: it brings back memories,” he said.

Broad Street was awash also with memorabilia, re-enactors, drills and displays of life in 1914.

World War 1 commemorations in Stamford started weeks earlier with an exhibition at Browne’s Hospital, in Broad Street, where there were performances, workshops, lectures, roadshows and displays.

It ended at 11pm on Monday when all but one of the candles placed at the war memorial was extinguished at 11pm to the backdrop of church bells. It was part of the national ‘Lights Out’ campaign, when the entire nation was asked to put out all except a single light in homes, streets, cafes, clubs and pubs, and marked the momnet on August 4 when Great Britain entered the war.

Programme director Sam Roddan said: “I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all who have been involved. As a community project, run entirely by volunteers, it just would not have been possible without the many people who have given time and enormous effort to make this highly successful project happen.”

At Easton-on-the-Hill a re-enactment, fly past and a WW1 exhibition were part of its day-long commemorations on Saturday.

The programme of events, compiled by the Easton, Collyweston and Duddington branch of the Royal British Legion, centred around the village ‘hub’ – the War Memorial, The Blue Bell Inn, the Village Hall and Primary School.

The day started with a Service conducted by Canon Keith Denison around the War Memorial. It was attended by members of the Easton and Stamford Royal British Legion, Easton, Collyweston and Duddington parish councillors, airmen and women from RAF Witterring and Kendrew Barracks, Scouts, Cadets and the Stamford Brass Band.

Children from Easton School laid wreaths and the names of Easton’s fallen were read out.

During the day there was also a Tiger Moth fly-past, a re-enactment display at the Blue Bell and the Priests House open for visitors.

A period lunch at The Blue Bell alongside period ‘lunch bags’ of basic fare reminded villagers and visitors of what life was like in the early 20th century.

And a ‘send-off’ supper in a marquee at the pub the in the evening replicated the poignant moment when families would have said good-bye to their loved ones who went off to war - often never to return.

The commemorations ended with a short period of reflection and WW1 Poetry readings following the sounding of the last post.

In the village of Barnack its Royal British Legion branch held a candlelit vigil at the War memorial from 10.30-11pm on Monday in memory of the 39 men from Barnack, Souththorpe and Pilsgate who lost their lives in the conflict.

A bell tolled from the village church as more than 150 villagers assembled in the darkness to take part in the service conducted by the Reverend David Maylor - Chaplain to the Barnack and District branch of the Legion.

A series of reflections, poems and scriptures were read, together with the singing of the soldiers’ hymn O Valiant Hearts against a background of haunting contemporary 1914-18 music of the period.

Former Stamford School pupil Cameron Park played a medley of Pipe tunes and the traditional Flowers of the Forest For The Fallen.

Commemorations concluded with the reading of Lord Grey’s famous statement ‘The lights are going out all over Europe’ and a salvo of rockets symbolising the outbreak of hostilities and the carnage that followed.

The piper then led the congregation down to the Millstone Inn for a nightcap.

At Corby Glen, about 200 villagers gathered at a moving ceremony on Monday night to remember the village’s 24 soldiers who died.

As dusk descended on the village war memorial, candles were lit to represent each of the men from the village killed during the four years of bloody conflict.

Following a service at the parish church of St John the Evangelist, villagers gathered at The Green where lanterns were lit while the names of the soldier who died were read out.

After two minute’s silence, the lanterns were carried to the church in a procession accompanied by a drum beat played by 12-year-old Josh Weir as the church bells tolled.

The church service with hymns and readings was followed by the extinguishing of the lanterns.

Chairman of the Parish Council Steve Honeywood said the anniversary had been an opportunity to recognise the sacrifice of the 24 village men, but also to learn more about them.

He said: “We hope that we can fill in some more of the background which will help people in remembering that these were young men who lived in our village a comparatively recent 100 years ago, and who went off to war and didn’t come back.”

And St Faith’s Church in Wilsthorpe was full of tributes to the 23 ancestors of village residents who went to war on Saturday and Sunday, including Thomas Dennis, the only Wilsthorpe resident killed in action.

The memories of Ted Mason, whose son still lives in the village, were transcribed into a booklet that was available to buy. There was also a Memory Tree detailing the 72 soldiers mentioned in Ted’s diary and to which visitors placed names of their own ancestors.

A cheque for £240 will be presented to the Poppy Appeal from donations received.

Susan Burgoin, who helped organise the event, said: “A huge thank you goes to all those who were involved in the weekend and who made it such a special and moving commemoration. A scaled down version of the exhibition will remain in the church over the next few weeks which all are welcome to visit.”