At 11pm on 4th August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany, ushering one of the darkest periods in our history. As the moment approached, the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, made the famous remark
“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
Gislingham Parish Council decided to mark the event by arranging for some of the street lights to go out from 10pm-11pm and to organize a gathering at the War Memorial for a series of readings made by volunteers about the war. The event was lit by torches and by candlelight.
More than 50 people of all ages met at the War Memorial to hear readings by poets who lived, fought, and in many cases, died during those long and brutal 4 years. They included Wilfred Owen and his friend Siegfried Sassoon; Vera Britten, mother of Shirley Williams MP and many others famous and not so famous, who had all experienced death and carnage in the trenches.
Chris Pitt directed the short ceremony which ended with the reading of the names of villagers who did not return; followed by a blessing. Some families lost 2 or 3 members – sons, husbands, fathers, uncles who died for their country.
The commemoration came to an end at 11pm and the lights came on again as a sombre crowd made their way home.
Our next commemoration will be a bitter-sweet one to celebrate the end of the war in 4 years time!
Thanks go to all who participated and to those who read so movingly.