German soldiers to take part in Halifax remembrance parade

editorial image

German soldiers will be marching through Halifax as part of its Remembrance Day parade.

The soldiers will join members of the Yorkshire Regiment and the Royal British Legion as part of the poignant procession through the town centre next month.

“It will be an important symbol of unity and friendship for the world to see - and I think that will be very powerful,” said Vicar of Halifax Hilary Barber.

Since 1949 Halifax has been officially twinned with the German city of Aachen.

One colour party representing soldiers from the German Ministry of Defence local garrison near Aachen will be joined by a delegation representing the Lutheran Church, civic leaders, the German government and the German consulate.

The project has received the full backing of both the British and German governments, as well as from the Royal British Legion who has said the inclusion of German soldiers within the parade is ‘long overdue’.

The Rev Canon Barber said: “We have moved on in the 65-plus years of friendship from being arch-enemies to understanding that together we’ve managed to secure relative peace across Europe since the Second World War.

“Therefore it seemed to me to be very appropriate that we should come together as communities to recognise this great moment when many people from Halifax and Calderdale gave their lives for the peace of the world.

“Equally, many men in Aachen, Germany, gave their lives for what they were asked to do.

“Therefore we come together to reflect on the evils of war and the loss of life on both sides.”

Rev Canon Barber hopes that the people of Calderdale will respond in a positive way.

He said: “Living in the 21st century, we have to learn to live and co-exist side-by-side with people from many different cultures and backgrounds.

“Over a hundred years of history ought to be long enough to bring about a sense of forgiveness - that’s very different from forgetting, I’m not suggesting that we ever forget.

“The people of Halifax have built this friendship with the people of Aachen for over 60 years, and it’s because of this that we’ve overcome our feelings of enmity and bitterness.

“Now there is a mutual understanding of the atrocities of war and the effects of war on both sides and that the world today is still a very vulnerable place.

“We have to redouble our efforts to live peaceably in Europe for the next hundred years,” he said.

Remembrance events will take place at Halifax Minster - which houses the regimental chapel of the town’s former Duke of Wellington’s Regiment - on November 8 and 9.

The Halifax Choral Society and the Minster’s music department will perform French composer Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem and Edward Elgar’s the Spirit of England at a service on November 8.

On Remembrance Sunday, there will be a service held at the Halifax Cenotaph followed by a service at the Minster given by a priest from the Lutheran Church, Aachen.

The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, which had it’s headquarters at Halifax’s old Wellesley Barracks, traditionally recruited soldiers from all over the West Riding and took part in many military campaigns including the Great War and the second world war.

The Dukes was merged with the Green Howards and Prince of Wales’ Own Regiment to form the Yorkshire Regiment in 2006.