It is time to remember First World War soldiers in Waveney
PUBLISHED: 09:15 01 August 2014 | UPDATED: 16:26 01 August 2014
People in Waveney are being urged to remember those who lost their lives in the First World War as a week of commemorative events get under way.
Monday marks the centenary of the outbreak of the conflict in 1914, which saw thousands of men from the Lowestoft and Southwold areas take up arms to fight for their country.
As churches across Waveney prepare for special services and events, people are being asked to take time out to remember those who left their towns and villages to join the fight against German oppression – and paid the ultimate price.
At St Margaret’s Church in Lowestoft, final preparations are being made for a commemoration exhibition that will open from Tuesday until next Saturday.
The church is home to the town’s war memorial – listing the names of 727 men who lost their lives – and on Tuesday there will be a special three-hour peal of its First World War memorial bells from 9.30am, followed by a poppy-laying ceremony at 11am.
The church’s rector, the Rev Michael Asquith, said: “We are commemorating those who readily sacrificed their lives for their fellow countrymen and women so we, the future generation, could enjoy the freedoms we have today.”
Waveney MP Peter Aldous will be attending the poppy-laying ceremony and a commemoration service on Sunday at 11am at St Edmund’s Church, Kessingland.
He said: “The First World War was an horrific conflict that left no country, community or family untouched.
“Memorials across the country bear testament and pay respect to the fallen and those who did not return.
“So many of those who did come home were understandably scarred for the rest of their lives, yet carried their burdens upon their shoulders with courage and dignity.
“It is important that we pay our respects to them all, remembering the sacrifices that they made for their country and their families and for our and future generations.”
On Sunday, St Edmund’s Church in Southwold will be holding a service of commemoration at 11am and Holy Trinity Church in Blythburgh will host a vigil service with the Blythburgh Singers at 6pm.
During the services, the churches will be extinguishing all candles – and leaving just one lit.
This will commemorate the poignant words of the foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey who, on the eve of the First World War, said “the lamps are going out all over Europe”.
The Rev Simon Pitcher, team rector of the Sole Bay team, said: “It is to show how darkness came over the world. Keeping one candle lit signifies the light of hope and the light of Christ shining in the darkness.
“In my sermon I will say that we hope that the lessons that we learned 100 years ago are not forgotten.
“As we learn these lessons, we don’t have to learn them in the same way.”
On Monday from 10pm to 11pm, there will be a commemoration at the war memorial outside St Edmund’s Church.
Mr Pitcher added: “All these acts of commemoration are open to anybody and everybody to come and spend a few moments remembering wars of the past, remembering lessons learned and praying for today and for the future.”
In Reydon, the congregation of St Margaret’s Church will be saying special prayers for peace during the service at 9.30am on Sunday.
This will be followed on Monday by a vigil at the war memorial in the churchyard between 10pm and 11pm, when candles will be extinguished to leave just one burning.
The Rev Richard Henderson, vicar at St Margaret’s, said: “I think there are still people around who have got connections in a way, such as memories of loved ones or relatives, and people need to remember.
“It is important to mark the centenary for those that gave their lives.”
Among other events, Pakefield church will be holding a remembrance service at 6.30pm on Sunday, and a commemoration service of choral evensong will be held at 7pm on Sunday at St Mark’s Church in Oulton Broad.
The Lowestoft War Memorial Museum in Sparrow’s Nest Gardens will be open on Monday from 11.30am for the centenary and visitors will be able to see its roll of honour, a hands-on exhibition from the battlefields of Flanders and the Somme, and displays on life in Lowestoft during the war including Zeppelin and seaplane raids, rationing, evacuees and coastal bombardment.
The museum will also be open on Wednesday and next Sunday.
Robert Jarvis, museum curator, said: “It is important to continue to remember what our grandparents and great-grandparents experienced so that we can enjoy the freedom we do today.”
■The exhibition at St Margaret’s Church will have history and flower displays and will feature piano recitals at 2.30pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and a concert by the Waveney Singers with songs from 1914-18 at 2.30pm on Thursday. Next Friday from 2.30pm are performances by U3A Singers and organist Steven Kirk.