Thornbury Remembers : 1918 – 2018
Photo credit : Derek Stratton LRPS
Thornbury joined the rest of the country in marking the centenary of the Armistice that ended the First World War, on 11th November 1918.
One hundred years ago to the day, Big Ben sounded in Parliament Square to ring in the news as thousands gathered in Westminster and outside Buckingham Palace roaring in celebration, sparking three days of jubilation across Britain, with members of the public climbing the lions in Trafalgar Square and tearing down advertising hoardings appealing for investment in war bonds to burn on bonfires. The agreement between the Allies and a vanquished Germany required the latter to leave all occupied territories in Western Europe within two weeks and surrender 5,000 guns, 25,000 machine guns and 1,700 planes. In the House of Commons, the prime minister, Lloyd George, concluded his address with the declaration: “I hope we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came an end to all wars.”
This page describes the ways in which Thornbury marked this significant event, through words, pictures and sounds.
There, But Not There
As part of our commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, Thornbury Hamlets celebrated the award of two silhouettes funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, to mark the deaths of the two Thornbury men who died as a result of the war. These silhouettes were placed in the pews at St. Peter’s Church and made a real impact. During the Remembrance Service, members of the congregation sat alongside the ‘missing’ men. The silhouettes will be kept for use at future Remembrance services.
Holsworthy Museum acknowledged the sacrifice of the 39 men from the town who died in the First World War, by selling a limited edition of 50 glass poppies which were made in Thornbury, in aid of the Royal British Legion. £400 was raised.
Roll of Honour
The inscriptions on Thornbury’s War memorial, at Woodacott.
War Memorial names for the First World War:
Killed in action: Sergeant Thomas Skinner, died aged 27, 4th September 1914.
Died as a result of the war: Walter Jollow, died aged 34, 27th February 1922.
Men who returned and are mentioned on the memorial:
|Maj. Gen. Sir Edward Graham
War Memorial names for Second World War:
Frederick Osborne, died aged 20, 22nd May 1941.
Herbert Priest, aged 20, 19th October 1943.
Remembrance Day, 11th November 2018
At 11.00 on 11th November, residents gathered at the War memorial at Woodacott Green, to remember all those who served or were affected by war, and especially the two men who gave their lives in the First World War, and all those who served in both World Wars as listed above.
David Whitehead, the Churchwarden of St. Peter’s, led the ceremony. The standard was carried by Arthur Sillifant. The Roll of Honour was read by Keith Hutchings, Chair of the Parish Council. Wreaths were laid on behalf of Thornbury Parish Council and St. Peter’s Church.
After the ceremony at the Memorial, a service was held at the Church.
St. Peter’s Church was decorated with a series of flower arrangements, reflecting the theme of conflict and remembrance.
The congregation at the Church included two silhouettes funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust. The award was made under the Armistice and Armed Forces Communities programme, which makes awards to bring communities together to remember; and to think about the Armed Forces today.
The Order of Service
Here is the Order of Service that was followed, at the War Memorial and at the Church. As well as the hymns, three poems were read: these are reproduced below.
“We Shall Keep the Faith” by Moina Michael
Who was Moina Michael, I hear you thinking? She was an American university professor, who had been in Europe at the start of the war, helping US civilian citizens to return home, and in 1918 was teaching in New York at the YWCA, training overseas workers. Two days before the Armistice was declared, she came across the Canadian officer John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” which he wrote in the spring of 1915, shortly after losing a friend at Ypres:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
She was so moved by these words that she wrote her own poem in response, and vowed to always wear a red poppy in remembrance. Back at her university after the war, she worked with disabled veterans, and saw the sale of poppies as a way to raise funds for them. She went on to get the poppy adopted as the US national remembrance symbol and campaigned for veterans for the rest of her life.
A French woman named Anna Guerin brought the remembrance poppy over to England in 1921, and the newly-founded British Legion was so enthusiastic about the idea, that they ordered 9 million poppies and sold them ALL for the first Poppy Day on 11th November that year.
By the time of her death in 1944, US and UK poppy sales had raised some £200 million. A remarkable woman, who helped to ensure that we keep the faith with those who gave so much:
We Shall Keep the Faith by Moina Michael, November 1918
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith with All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields, where valour led;
It seems to signal to the skies,
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red,
Of the flower that blooms above the dead,
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red,
We wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
Consider the Poppy, by Simon Armitage
This is one of two poems written by Simon Armitage in 2014 in response to objects in the Imperial War Museum.
This one was inspired by a pressed poppy which soldier Joseph Shaddick sent from the trenches to his family home in Devon. It now lies, pale and brittle,in the archive of the Imperial War Museum.
The poem is reproduced here, by kind permission of Simon Armitage.
© Simon Armitage, with kind permission of DGA Ltd
|Consider the poppy,
think it a life,
the plasma and milk
of its petals and stalk.
Or think it a face,
Think it an eye:
or think it a mouth,
Or think it a soul,
|Or think it a ghost,
or think it a heart.
But, above all, think it
A seed of thought
A bubble of memory
A crimson stain
when it flares and flames
Pages of the Sea
On 11 November 2018, communities gathered on beaches across the UK to say goodbye and thank you, to the millions of men and women who left their shores during the war, many never to return. On selected beaches around the UK, over the course of several hours, a portrait of an individual from the First World War was drawn in the sand. And then, as the tide rose, they were washed away.
Thornbury’s own contribution was to write the names of our two dead from the First World War in the sand of Sandymouth Bay, to be washed away at high tide.
In the evening, the bells of St. Peter’s Church were rung, to echo the ringing of bells throughout the land at the end of the “war to end all wars”. Between 1914 and 1918 regulations introduced under the Defence of the Realm Act severely curtailed the amount of bell-ringing that could take place. This, together with the departure of so many men to the front, meant that church bells were rarely heard. Ironically, with so many ringers at the front, accounts from the time recall how the bells that announced the end of the war on 11 November 1918 were not rung particularly well – even though it was through their ringing that most people learned of the end of the war. Older ringers, former ringers and just about anyone who could lend a hand got involved.
Here is the team of ringers that met at St. Peter’s Church on the evening of 11th November 2018.
In the audio clip below, we move from the sound of the audience inside the church, into the clear night air below the church tower.
A fitting end to rural Thornbury’s day of tribute to those who served and lost so much.