A fitting tribute to the Great War

Sisters Milly Sayer, nine, and Maisy Sayer, eight, planting crosses for the First World War centenary at Centre Vale Park, Todmorden.
Sisters Milly Sayer, nine, and Maisy Sayer, eight, planting crosses for the First World War centenary at Centre Vale Park, Todmorden.

Poignant tributes from across Calderdale marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One.

Commemoration services were held in the region in remembrance of those who lost their lives and many events reflected on the impact of the war in the local area.

Calderdale Council marked the occasion on Monday evening by taking part in the Royal British Legion’s Lights Out campaign, where the lights in Halifax Town Hall were turned off from 10pm for one hour and a candle was lit to illuminate the Book of Remembrance, which is kept in the building.

The book is a record of local people who lost their lives during the war and commemorates the sacrifices they made.

The Mayor of Calderdale, Coun Pat Allen, who was in attendance at the event, said: “The lighting of the candle was so symbolic.

“The whole evening was a fitting tribute to centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, allowing us to reflect on the sacrifices made during the conflict.

“We’ve got to remember the 100th anniversary of the First World War and I just can’t imagine what people went through.

“Just about everyone was affected and it must have been horrendous.

“It is very emotional and the services have all been very moving.”

Also in attendance at the event were representatives from Calderdale Council, the Parish Councils, the Royal British Legion, the Deputy Lieutenants office, the Halifax Great War Society as well as the Halifax Antiquarians Society and the Scouts.

A series of readings, poems and recollections from the period were also read and the end of the hour was marked when the Last Post played from the Town Hall balcony.

On Sunday, members of the Churches Together in Claremount and Boothtown group gathered at St Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church for a commemoration service.

In the presence of Coun Pat Allen, the service reflected on the ways in which the lives of local people were changed by the war.

Pauline Fothergill, secretary of Secretary of Churches Together in Claremount and Boothtown, said: “The event was very well attended and everyone came together to remember.

“We felt it was a very beautiful, very moving and very reflective service.”

The Littleborough Brass Band provided the music during the service, which also included a procession of lights and poppies as well as WW1 poetry and art.

Father Guy Jamieson, of St Anne’s, Southowram and St Thomas’s, Claremount said that the service was a way to bring different groups together in remembrance and look at how the enormity of events impacted the lives of local people during the period.

He said: “The language of remembrance is at the heart of the church’s life.

“One of the main things the service looked at was what the war has taught us and how we have learnt from mistakes of the past.”

The Stainland community also marked the special centenary on Saturday when the Stainland and District Community Association, in conjunction with the Elland, Greetland and District branch of the Royal British Legion dedicated a memorial gate and stone in the Stainland Memorial Park.

The park was opened following a public collection, as a lasting memorial to those who perished during the war and the association hope that the work carried out in the park will go some way to restoring it to its former glory.

More than 100 people attended the dedications carried out by Father Rodney Chapman, the vicar of St Andrews, Stainland and the branch Chaplin to the Royal British legion Father Philip Chadwick.

Coun Pat Allen was also in attendance and unveiled the memorial stone, carved by Dave Bradbury and apprentices at the Kirklees Building College.

Peter Mallinson, Secretary of the Elland, Greetland and District branch of the Royal British Legion , said: “It was a very moving day and it will hopefully be the start of the regeneration of the park and of the local community.”

The Royal Legion branch President Fred Williams laid a wreath at the new m,emorial before the Last Post and Reveille were sounded, the Kohima Epitaph was then delivered by the Branch Chairman Mr Philip Holroyd.

The day ended with drinks and sandwiches served in 1855 The Restaurant.

Communities across the valleys also paid their respects to World War One’s fallen soldiers on Monday.

Commemorative exhibitions and services were held in Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Cornholme and Mytholmroyd to mark the the special centenary.

Hebden Bridge held a service of commemoration at Hope Baptist Church on Sunday, where the newly commissioned Roll of Honour was introduced at the service and tells the stories of those who were killed in World War One.

Services at memorials were also held in New Road, Hebden Bridge, and Burnley Road, Mytholmroyd, led by Rev Cathy Reardon, and an evening vigil service took place at St Michael’s Church, Mytholmroyd.

In Todmorden, a service was held at St Mary’s church and earlier in the day, people of all ages gathered in the sunshine as 659 named crosses, one for each serviceman from the town who died in the conflict, were planted at the Garden of Remembrance in Centre Vale park.

During the centenary period, there will be small displays popping up at sites that played a key role in the war, including Spring Hall Mansion, which was used a hospital for servicemen during the war.