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Tribute to Great War music

Peter Orpin who found the First World War sheet music
Peter Orpin who found the First World War sheet music

A man whose father fought in the First World War has given Belgian authorities a piece of 1914 sheet music about a German atrocity in the country during the conflict.

Peter Orpin uncovered a sheet of classical music notes called Remember Louvain while clearing out an uncle’s house 35 years ago.

The piano music was written by John Neat and performed by former Oakham School pupil Peter Davis.

It was created by Britain as a propaganda tool after German forces destroyed part of the Belgian city of Louvain over five days from August 23, 1914, killing 674 people.

The German action saw the library of the Université catholique de Louvain burned to the ground and one in ten of the city’s inhabitants dead.

It came shortly after the start of the Great War in retaliation for Belgian troops firing on the invaders.

Peter, 87, of Normanton Drive, in Oakham, contacted Belgian officials in Louvain and he visited the city earlier this year to hand over the music.

He also took a copy of George Phillips’ book Rutland and the Great War.

Peter said: “I found the sheets of music in a box of music. I kept some of it.

“Then I decided to contact Louvain about this piece.

“I could not post it as it is too fragile.

“It was extraordinary and very emotional to visit Belgium to give them the sheet music.

“I was met by officials at the university and the sheet will be kept in the archives there.”

Peter’s father Victor Orpin joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1916 and fought at Arras, France, among other place. He died aged 78,

His mother Gwendaline Orpin joined the Women’s Royal Air Force working on the manufacture of planes and died aged 91.

Peter, whose birthday is Armistice Day - November 11 - has a long interest in the First World War.

He was joined on his trip to Belgium on August 8 by his nephew Philip Orpin.

They were also taken out to dinner and give momentos on their trip.

The duo also headed to the Menin Gate, in Ypres.

Peter has had a CD of the jaunty march-style music made.


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