Commemorative event for the centenary of the end of the First World War
On 11th November 2018, the United Kingdom and its friends overseas will mark the day 100 years ago when the guns fell silent at the end of the First World War. You can play your part in remembering the sacrifice of millions of men and women by joining us in Battle’s Over, a unique series of events in the morning and evening involving organisations and communities the length and breadth of our nation and in many countries abroad.
6.00am - Battle’s Over - Sleep in peace, now the battle’s over The sound of 1,000 bagpipes will fill the air before dawn has broken on 11th November 2018. In cities and towns throughout the land individual pipers will play Battle’s O’er - a traditional air played by pipers after a battle. Heralding the start of the day’s commemorations, they will play the haunting tune outside churches and cathedrals, in market squares and muddy fields, on hilltops and high streets, in valleys and village greens throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and at scores of locations overseas, including Australia, Canada, the USA, Germany, South Africa, France, Spain, Denmark, Israel and Somalia to name but a few. A lone piper will play Battle’s O’er in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey, London, with others undertaking a similar performance in front of cathedrals in the UK. At the same time, pipers everywhere will be playing the same tune in their local communities. Following the playing of this piece of music at the Merchant Navy Associations National Memorial, Trinity Square Gardens, Tower Hill, London, at 6am, through to 7pm, when a WWI Beacon of Light will be lit, the 15,000 names of those brave Merchant Navy Seamen who lost their lives during this dreadful war will be read out by a range of people from all over the United Kingdom, in remembrance of the sacrifices made.
6.55pm Battle’s Over - The Last Post In association with the Air Training Corps, Army Cadet Force, Sea Cadet Force, Boys’ Brigade and the Light Infantry Buglers Association, the Last Post will be played at many of the 1,000 WWI Beacon sites throughout the United Kingdom, involving young people and others paying their personal tribute to those that gave their lives during World War I.
7.00pm Battle’s Over - WWI Beacons of Light Later that day, after darkness has fallen, more than 1,000 Beacons of Light will be lit throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories, with the first of these Beacons being lit at Westminster Abbey, London, that evening. This is a commemoration inspired by a comment made on 3rd August 1914 by Britain’s Foreign Minister, Sir Edward Grey. He was looking out of his office window at dusk as gas lights were being lit along London’s Mall when he remarked to a friend, “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
Our country was about to be plunged into the darkness of the First World War, and it would be four long years before Britain and Europe would again experience the light of peace. In remembrance of the end of the war and the millions who were killed or came home dreadfully wounded, Beacons of Light will be lit around the country at 7pm on 11th November 2018. The event will also commemorate the huge army of men and women on the home front who, often in dangerous and exhausting conditions, underpinned the war effort - keeping the wheels of industry turning and bringing home the harvests. The beacons will symbolise the light of hope that emerged from the darkness of war.
7.05pm Battle’s Over - Ringing out for peace! As beacons blaze around the country, bells in 1,000 churches and cathedrals will ring out in celebration of the end of the First World War. Many people in Britain live within hearing of church bells, which call congregations to prayer and mark special occasions. But the sound of mighty bells, some of which are hundreds of years old, also provides a stirring soundtrack to historic events. The ringing of bells to celebrate the end of the Great War is being organised in association with the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, the representative body for groups who ring bells in the English tradition with rope and wheel. It was founded in 1891 and represents 65 affiliated societies of local ringers from all over the British Isles and many other countries from Australasia to North America to Africa. The stirring sound of church and cathedral bells will provide a fitting conclusion to a day of contemplation, commemoration and, ultimately, celebration as our country and other nations reflect on events a century ago on the battlefields of Europe and at home in our factories and farms.
7.05pm Battle’s Over - Cry for Peace Around the World To coincide with the ringing of the church bells, 100 Town Criers, one for each year since the end of WW1, will be undertaking, ‘A Cry for Peace around the World’, and in the United Kingdom, the ‘Cry’ will be led by a Chelsea Pensioner from The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London, at 7.05pm that night. Those millions of brave men, along with the many left at home, did their duty for their country during the dark days of war, so let us do our duty by them, remembering and honouring them through Battle’s Over.
The WW1 Tunnellers & The Lamplight of Peace New light has been shed on a special breed of men who fought on the Western Front. Their job was not to charge over the top of the trenches but to sink explosive-packed tunnels deep beneath enemy lines. The allied tunnelling companies operated in such secrecy that little was known of their exploits for years after the war. Working in total silence up to 100ft underground their task was to detonate mines beneath the enemy’s trenches while seeking out German tunnellers digging the other way. It was a covert war waged by civilians with little or no military training - tough and resourceful men, many of whom had been rejected by the army on the grounds of health and age.
Their greatest victory came at 3.10am on 7th June 1917 when 19 mines were detonated at Messines Ridge in West Flanders, Belgium. A seismograph in Switzerland registered the explosions and David Lloyd George is said to have heard them over 150 miles away in Downing Street, London. Following the blasts, it took just three hours for the British troops to take the German positions. The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy awarded to British or Commonwealth forces. It was awarded 628 times to 627 recipients in the First World War. However, William Hackett was the only WW1 tunneller to receive the VC. Born on 11th June 1873, he worked as a miner for 23 years in the Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire coalfields. Rejected three times for being too old, Hackett eventually enlisted on 25th October 1915, despite having been diagnosed with a heart condition. He spent two weeks of basic training at Chatham, Kent, before joining the 172nd Tunnelling Company.
In June 1916, Sapper Hackett and four others were in Givenchy, France, tunnelling towards enemy lines when the Germans detonated a mine and the shaft collapsed, burying the five men. Hackett worked for 20 hours to create a hole and saved three of his comrades. The remaining soldier, Private Thomas Collins, was mortally wounded, however, Sapper Hackett stayed with him, despite having the opportunity to escape. When another explosion occurred, both men were buried alive and died together. The Victoria Cross was presented by King George V to Sapper Hackett’s widow, Alice, at Buckingham Palace on 29th December 1916. In commemoration of the sacrifices made by these brave, but dedicated men, the Lamplight of Peace has been made as a unique, lasting tribute to the Tunnellers of WW1, along with the millions of other service men who died or returned home dreadfully wounded from the Great War.
The flame from the Lamp will be used to light the first of over one thousand WW1 Beacons of Light being lit throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories, at Westminster Abbey, London, during the evening of 11th November 2018.
For more information about the 'Battle's Over' commemorative event please visit www.brunopeek.co.uk.
The Cathedral of St Mary & St Boniface, Wyndham Street West, Stonehouse, Plymouth PL1 5RZ