The need for remembrance

The centenary of the end of the First World War is the subject of Damian's column published in the Petersfield Post today:

"Some may have spotted in the news that part of the iconic ‘wave’ poppy sculpture first seen at the Tower of London back in 2014, will be on display at the Royal Armouries’ Fort Nelson near Portsmouth, between 14th April and 24th June this year.

Its stunning appearance four years ago marked one hundred years since the start of the First World War, and as the installation nears the end of its tour across the UK, coinciding with the centenary of the end of the war, it’s a poignant reminder of the enormous sacrifice made by those who fought to keep us safe.

The Government has announced a series of commemorations to lead up to the centenary of the Armistice that brought the end to hostilities - signed at 5am on Marshal Foch's train in the forest of Rethondes and coming into effect at 11 o'clock on the 11th November 1918.

This year, the traditional National Service of Remembrance will take place at London’s Cenotaph, honouring those who fought and died in all conflicts, but with a particular focus on the lives lost during the Great War.

Bells will ring out freely across villages, towns and cities, with Big Ben striking at 11am. And the government is supporting a campaign to recruit 1,400 new bell ringers – the number that lost their lives during the four years.

On the 26th March a ceremony took place at the status of Ferdinand Foch in London’s Victoria, to mark his appointment at Supreme Allied Commander on the Western Front. This coalition of forces proved to be a critical factor in the success of the Allies in the summer 1918, following the ‘spring offensive’.

The centenary of the Battle of Amiens and the subsequent ‘Hundred Days Offensive’ will be marked with a service at Amiens Cathedral on the 8th August, in recognition of this decisive point in the war.

In addition to the service at the Cenotaph, a commemorative service will also be held that day at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission St Symphorien Cemetery near Mons to mark where the war began in 1914, and where the first and last casualties lie.

The national commemoration on the 11th November will end with a service at Westminster Abbey, reflecting on the centenary, recognising the impact of the war after the Armistice, and giving thanks to all those who were affected over the course of the conflict.

And there will be plenty of events held closer to home, including an idea to plant a tree in the memory of each name on the town’s War Memorial, a full educational programme at the Petersfield Museum, and the potential for silhouettes from the Royal British Legion’s Silent Soldier Campaign to appear around the town.

But however we remember the fallen, there is no doubt that our debt to them is immense."

For more information on the First World War Centenary, go to:  http://www.1914.org/ and for details of the centenary art commissions, go to: https://www.1418now.org.uk/