A film of a moving vigil event at Clitheroe Castle commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme has now been released.
The film has been released by artist Andy Farr as part of a creative project, The Lost Generation. Through this project Andy is working with young people in the Ribble Valley to help them to understand what life was like for people their age during World War One.
Andy came up with the idea to make the 100th anniversary of the First World War more relevant to today’s young people, and has already been working for more than two years with schools and colleges.
Fought between July 1 and November 18, 1916, the Somme was one of the bloodiest military battles in history, claiming the lives of thousands of young Lancashire men. On the first day alone, the British suffered 58,000 casualties and by the end more than 1.5 million men had lost their lives.
Over 200 people, from as far afield as Scotland, took part in the vigil on Friday 1 July. Participants at the vigil posed on a plinth in the stance of Clitheroe Castle’s Unknown Soldier, who occupies a prominent position overlooking the town, his head bowed in the direction of the Western Front.
County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “I’m delighted that so many people took the opportunity to take part in the vigil.
“People of all ages came along to pay their respects, both from the local area and from other parts of the country.
“I’m sure that many were doing it to honour the memory of a relative who fought at the Somme and the horror of what they experienced.
“We must never forget the sacrifices that were made, and the Lancashire commemorations and the film are an important part of this.
“Working on this project, inspired by the lives and experiences of teenagers during the First World War, will hopefully make what happened more relevant to today’s young people and help them to connect with them.”
The vigil was led by Ribble Valley Mayor Joyce Holgate, whose father, Thomas Henry Lawless, fought at the Somme with the 1st East Lancashire Regiment.
Joyce Holgate said: “The Battle of the Somme had a profound impact on Lancashire people and the loss of life was devastating, with 1,000 young men losing their lives from Ribble Valley alone.
“My father fought at and survived the Somme, and his recollections of life in the trenches were graphic. The horrors he witnessed and endured were unspeakable.
“People of all ages from across Ribble Valley and Lancashire took part in the vigil, including families, individuals, representatives of local organisations, school pupils, ex-service men and women, and current serving soldiers.
“The turnout was fantastic, with people attending from across East Lancashire and as far afield as Scotland, and the feedback has been positive and heartfelt.”
At 7.30am, a whistle blew marking the start of the vigil, just as it did 100 years ago when solders went ‘over the top’. But instead of going into battle participants stood on a plinth next to the Unknown Soldier for two minutes as a mark of respect.
The end of the vigil was marked at 7.30pm with a reading of Lancaster-born Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’ and the sounding of the Last Post.
The Lost Generation project will also result in the creation of new artwork and writing to be exhibited at Clitheroe Castle Museum from Thursday 20 October to Sunday 29 January 2017.
The film about the vigil is available at lostgeneration.info