IN MEMORIAM - World War 1
in the Bride Valley
Litton Cheney
Dorset
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LITTON CHENEY ARMISTICE COMMEMORATION 2018
ARMISTICE DAY COMMEMORATION ASSEMBLY FRIDAY 9 TH NOVEMBER 2018 INTRODUCTION On Friday 9 th November 2018, the School held a special Assembly to commemorate the 100 th Anniversary of the ending of the 1914 1918 War and in particular to remember the nine men from Litton Cheney who gave their lives. Their names are recorded on the War Memorial in St Mary’s Churchyard. In the weeks leading up to the Assembly the children had been very busy making poppies and wreaths from soft drink bottles, tissue paper and other suitably coloured materials, and learning new hymns and poems appropriate to the occasion. They had also been researching to find out as much as they could about the nine who died; who they were, where they lived, where they went to School, where they worked, where they fought and where they died. In parallel with the work being done in the School, people from the wider Village community had put together an exhibition to mark the occasion. As part of this, nine wooden crosses had been made, one for each of the men who died. The crosses were to be dedicated during the Assembly, before being placed in the exhibition together with other memorabilia, some of which was provided by the School. The poppies and wreaths used in the Assembly were also to be part of the exhibition, which would remain in place until the Saturday afternoon. On Sunday (Armistice Day) the crosses would be taken into the Church. Following an informal ceremony at the War Memorial, which would be preceded by muffled ringing of the Church Bells, the “last Post” and two minutes silence at 11:00, the names of the nine would be read out; the bells rung unmuffled and the crosses taken into the Church where they would remain. The Reverend Philip Ringer led the Assembly and Mr Paul Cheater provided the musical accompaniment. The Assembly was very well attended by parents, relatives and members of the village community who wanted to join in the commemoration; about 60 people in total. This was a very special occasion, as evidenced by the positive feedback received from many of those who attended. THE ASSEMBLY The Assembly began with a welcome to all present from the Chair of Governors who explained that the service would be based on the 9 Litton men named on the War Memorial. She said that Eggardon pupils had become increasingly engrossed in the men’s stories as they realised that they had known the village, some had attended the school and some had rung the bells as they can do at school services in Church. She then invited a pupil to light the altar candle after which he led the responses ‘The Lord is Here’ with the response ‘His spirit is with us’. The Reverend Ringer then gave an address in which he stressed the enormity of the loss of, and damage to, human lives as a result of the conflict. Those lives can never be replaced or repaired but they can be remembered and that was the purpose of the Assembly. He mentioned that eight million horses and countless mules and donkeys had also died in the war. They too should be remembered. After the address, the “Last Post” bugle call was played over the Hall sound system and this was followed by a One Minute’s Silence. There was total silence – not a cough, shuffle or murmur. Nine of the younger pupils were given a cross to hold while the Reverend Ringer said a few words of dedication. The crosses were then placed along the front of the stage either side of a large wooden cross that was decorated with 9 simple paper poppies. Year 6 pupils from Eggardon then told us, one by one, a bit more of what they had found out about each of the “nine men of Litton” who had given their lives. These were ordinary people who in several cases had carried out extraordinary acts of bravery. Some of them were very young. After each of the nine had been named, a poppy wreath was placed at the foot of the stage, below the crosses, by a member of Chesil. These were supplemented by paper wreaths made by Litton and bunches of tissue paper poppies made by Bredy. The end result was a sea of red poppies, all hand made by the children from a variety of materials. Fledglings had also made large poppy flowers that adorned the screen behind the large cross. Year five pupils then took turns in reciting the following words: - They played in the lanes we play in now They sat in the classrooms we sit in now They worked on the farms we work on now They gazed at the views we gaze at now They sat in the pews we sit in now They rang the bells we ring now Once they lived the lives we live now. Amen. Several people said afterwards that they had found these to be particularly moving. There followed a verse from Thomas Hardy’s poem “And There Was a Great Calm” on the signing of the Armistice, 11 November 1918. The final line of the verse is: - “And the pensive Spirit of Pity whispered, “Why?”” The dedication of the crosses, the tributes to the nine men of Litton and the poems and poppies were followed by the School hymn “When a Knight won his Spurs”. A pupil then recited the first verse of Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier” which starts: - “If I should die think only this of me”. He had learnt the verse by heart and it was delivered in a loud clear voice and without stumbling. The final hymn was “Oh God Our Help in Ages Past” after which a pupil extinguished the candle with the responses. Finally, everyone stood to sing the National Anthem. After the service had finished, members of Eggardon class, accompanied by their class teacher Mr Sitch, the Chair and Vice Chair of Governors and some parents, carried the large and small crosses up to the church. They looked at the names around the memorial, placed the individually named crosses at its base and took the large cross inside the church where it remains. After looking at some of the relevant graves in the graveyard, they returned to school taking the individual crosses with them for display in the exhibition. It is difficult to put into words how moving and meaningful this Assembly was. The children had obviously worked very hard in preparation for it and on the day they certainly delivered. The singing of the hymns and the reciting of the poems were absolutely lovely; the pupils’ delivery was dignified and moving throughout. It was certainly a real History lesson. All those involved should be very proud of themselves. Well done.
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