It was a unique occasion marked by solemn ceremonies around the world. Warwick certainly played its part on November 11th, the centenary of the end of the fighting in World War I, with Unlocking Warwick volunteers lending their support to the Town Council.
It began at 6am at the war memorial in Church Street, when hundreds of people turned up to hear a lone piper perform the Scottish lament, Battle’s O’er, which was being played simultaneously at memorials up and down the country.
Piper Andy Walker then moved into St. Mary’s Church to play further pieces in front of the spectacular display of more than 62 thousand hand-made poppies.
At 10 am there were Remembrance Sunday services at churches across town, with the main event attended by civic leaders at the Collegiate Church of St. Mary and conducted by Rev. Vaughan Roberts. At 10.45 there was a procession to the War Memorial where a large crowd had gathered, for a brief service of remembrance.
A young bugler sounded The Last Post, and after The Exhortation delivered by Michael Vallance of the Royal British Legion, (‘They shall grow not old… …We will remember them’), and the two-minutes’ silence at 11am, the bugler sounded Reveille.
You can see a short video of the moments leading up to The Eleventh Hour here: https://youtu.be/bET9WlOSg1k
After the laying of wreaths by various Warwick organisations, the Bishop of Warwick, The Right Reverend John Stroyan, gave the blessing before a march-past by civic leaders, veterans, local military units and youth organisations. (Click on the pictures to see them full size).
At 12.30pm church bells around the country were rung just as they had been 100 years ago. The bells of St. Mary’s rang out for over an hour with some elaborate joyful-sounding patterns and changes. And at 6.30pm the church hosted a special performance of Durufle Requiem performed by massed choirs, with readings by the actor Michael Maloney.
Simultaneously, a lamplight procession from the War Memorial went through the Town Gate into the grounds of the Castle, where the Singwell Community Choir were performing songs from the 1914-18 war period, with a crowd of several hundred people joining in.
The Mayor of Warwick, Richard Eddy, welcomed everyone and spoke of a very emotional day. He said that during the war, as the casualties on the Western Front and in the Middle East mounted, the names of those from Warwick who had been killed were written on boards and tied to the railings of St. Mary’s Churchyard. News of the Armistice in 1918 was greeted with relief, but celebrations were muted because of the large number of bereaved families in the town. More than 350 men were dead or missing.
Beacons of light were being lit at 7pm local time all over the world, symbolising an end to the darkness of war. After a young trumpeter had sounded The Last Post, the Mayor lit the Warwick Beacon. And the Town Crier joined hundreds of others across the country and abroad in delivering The International Cry for Peace. https://www.brunopeek.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/A-Cry-for-Peace.pdf
The Leader of Warwick Town Council read the town’s tribute to those who died in The Great War, and the names of the 364 Warwick people known to have died in the conflict were read out by members of Unlocking Warwick. The evening closed with the National Anthem and some reflective words from a spokesman for the Royal British Legion who thanked the castle team and the Town Council for marking the Armistice Centenary so effectively and so affectingly.
Here is a compilation of images from the day posted on the Town Council’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WarwickTownCouncil/videos/1147939515359942/