Processions, poetry readings, beacon lightings and bell ringing will be among the many commemorative events taking place this weekend, as councils across the country help to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
This Sunday, 11 November, represents 100 years since the Armistice was signed and the guns fell silent, bringing an end to one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission estimates just under a million UK and Empire soldiers fell during 1914-18, with the loss of life impacting on communities throughout the nation.
Councils are playing their part by taking inspiration from and helping to remember those from their areas who were killed or wounded in battle.
This includes the national Battle’s Over tributes, where 1,000 individual pipers across the UK will commence the day’s commemorations at 6am with the traditional lament played at the end of battle. There will also be more than 1,000 Beacons of Light lit across the land at 7pm symbolising an end to the darkness of war.
At 7.05pm, 1,000 cathedrals and churches will ring out their bells across the country in celebration of peace, ending with local town criers joining together in an International Cry for Peace around the world.
Lord Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “As the country looks back, remembering the devastating loss of life and the pain that almost every family would have faced due to the violence of war, I reflect on local government’s continuing role in commemorating the First World War, this year marking the one hundredth year since its end.
“As Chairman of the LGA it is a great privilege to support local authorities across the country in helping their communities recognise this important date, and the breadth of activity is extraordinary. From commemorative tree planting, to poetry, poppy walks to parades, it is encouraging to see councils work with their residents to pay fitting tributes to those who gave their lives a century ago.
“I am proud of the work councils and others are currently doing in bringing us all together, including in the various elements that make up Battle’s Over – A Nation’s Tribute on Sunday 11 November, but it doesn’t end there. I also have pride in the ongoing contribution local government is making to supporting those who have served or are serving and their families in the future, primarily through the Armed Forces Covenant.
“During this time for reflection, I wish to pay tribute and give my sincere thanks to those brave people who died or were injured helping to protect our country and our way of life, and to those mothers and fathers who let their brave children do, what no parent really wants their loved ones to do.”
At 6am on Remembrance Sunday a lone piper at Manchester Cathedral will play Battle’s O’er, along with a thousand pipers across the UK and around the world who will begin the day’s commemorations in the same way. Civic dignitaries, servicemen and women, service and ex-service organisations, faith leaders and uniformed organisations, will take part in the Remembrance Day parade to the Cenotaph in St Peter’s Square, opposite the town hall. Bells at Manchester Cathedral will also ring out 12.30pm, with a single Bugler sounding the Last Post followed by the lighting of a beacon.
More than 300 local schoolchildren will join war veterans and serving soldiers to march through the city centre on Friday (9 November), as part of the ‘Wolverhampton Remembers’ commemorative programme, before taking part in a public remembrance service in St Peter’s Square. Each child will be carrying a poppy on which they will have written the name of someone from Wolverhampton who died during the First World War.
Wreaths will be laid at the steps of Peterborough’s War Memorial and a service held in Peterborough Cathedral on Sunday to honour those who lost their lives for their country, organised by the council and the local Royal British Legion branch. A military parade with veterans and standard bearers will form up at the memorial outside of the town hall before proceeding to the cathedral. A large screen placed in Cathedral Square will display the Armistice 100 two minute silence and wreath laying ceremony, which will also be relayed live on the council’s Facebook page.
Several WWI commemorative events will be taking place across East Herts thanks in part to community grants given out by the district council, including an anniversary tea party for 35 people aged 70 plus, an Armistice Day event for 100 people aged 65 plus and a separate Nostalgia Day in Sawbridgeworth Memorial Hall. There will also be a five-day educational trip to WWI battlefields in Belgium for local children and parents.
The Mayor of Slough will be hosting a beacon lighting in Salt Hill Park as part of the national Battle’s Over Beacons of Light commemorations, while lead councillors will be reading WW1 poetry and a roll call of everyone from Slough who gave their lives. Candles will also be lit to remember the war dead.
Hastings Museum will officially open its ‘Hasting Remembers’ exhibition which looks at the impact war has had on the town and its communities, as part of a host of events being held over the weekend of 10 and 11 November. The traditional Remembrance Sunday service will also take place at Alexandra Park war memorial at 11am, preceded by the civic procession from the town hall. Bells of all four church towers in the town are also due to join others around the country in ringing to coincide with the nation’s tribute.
A new walk is now available on the BexleyWalks app to commemorate the centenary of the 1918 armistice. The new route takes walkers in the footsteps of local men who lost their lives in the First World War, running from the Bexleyheath war memorial to the Welling war memorial, highlighting key points along the way which were important to many of those fallen men and women who are remembered on the memorials. The free app is designed to help residents and visitors find out more about some of Bexley’s hidden treasures, developed by the borough’s Local Studies and Archive Centre’s team.
Residents will gather together with the Royal Military Academy at the Sandhurst War Memorial on Sunday, to remember those who have lost their lives in conflict. The Sandhurst and District Corps of Drums will lead the military and standard bearers in a march before turning into the park to form around the War Memorial, which has received spectacular new limestone pavestone surround in time to commemorate the centenary.