Lights were turned off across the country last night to commemorate the beginning of the 1st World War 100 years ago. In Leicestershire vigils were held at Leicester Cathedral, University of Leicester, Victoria Park War Memorial, De Montfort Hall and many other locations across Leicestershire.
At Leicester Cathedral people got a chance to sing popular songs of the time as well as hear the personal thoughts of local residents from back in 4 August 1914.
Songs such as ‘Belgium put the kibosh on the Kaiser’, ‘Keep the Home-Fires Burning’ and ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ were sang in between the readings.
A young man in 1914 gave his perspective, “I will go to war if necessary to help our allies and defend the principles of our civilisation, we cannot let aggression go unanswered and not uphold the decent principles of our empire, I want to join the Leicestershire regiment, 4th Yeomanry, but am not yet 17, my parents are a bit uneasy, but they heard someone say that it will be over by Christmas, so they don’t think I will ever actually have to fight overseas”
Before the candle was lit the announcement of war was read out, Sir Edward Grey has said, “The lamps are going out all over Europe and we shall not see them lit again in our time”
The Very Rev David Monteith, Dean of Leicester said “people of faith knew then and know now, that even in the worst time of darkness, there is a light, a tiny light, but that one single tiny light gives people enough hope to get by on, and so we lit the single candle tonight to remind us of those dark times, but nevertheless when there was still hope”
“every family, every community across England and particularly here in Leicester was affected by that war, we have to remember those who fell, those who sacrificed much and we need to understand the ways in which our communities were changed by that war”
Another service held at St Peter’s Church in Oadby, had readings interspersed with archive footage from the war.
The vigil was held as part of the villages “Oadby Remembers 1914-1918” project which runs from August 2014 to November 2018 and has wide range of community events and memorial services taking place.
Church Warden at St Peter’s Church, Jan Bryars said of the service “This service is really to remember all the gentlemen and all the chaps who died in the war from Oadby, 72 of them of about 400 who joined up, which was about 20% of the population of Oadby at the time”
The community commemorative services were open to people of all faiths or none.