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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Cumbria remembers the fallen of World War One

People across Cumbria gathered last night to commemorate the fallen of the First World War.

Carlisle memorial photo
At the war memorial in Carlisle

Young and old stood side-by-side to mark the centenary of the outbreak of hostilities.

In the twilight, Carlisle’s Rickerby Park rang with the songs of the war as hundreds gathered for the rededication of the city’s war memorial.

As the crowd formed, many placed lit candles on the memorial.

As the light faded, the floodlights picked out the inscriptions on the pink Shap granite to some of the regiments Cumbrians served with: The Border Regiment which lost 13,000 men; the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry; the Cumberland Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery; and the Westmorland Detachment of the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Among those attending was Eileen Robson, from Harraby, Carlisle.

“My grandmother’s first husband and brother went off to war and never came home,” she said. “She never knew what happened to them. It’s a significant occasion. I’m proud to be here to remember.”

The bells of Carlisle Cathedral rang out to summon the faithful of the city to mark the centenary.

The poem on the back of the Order of Service, written in November 1918 by Moina Michael, promises to ‘keep the faith with all who died’.

Hundreds did just that at yesterday evening’s ceremony, remembering those who served and who lost their lives in the conflict.

The congregation spanned the generations, made up by families, individuals, dignitaries and members of the Air Training Squadron and the Army Cadet Force (ACF) who took the collection during the service.

One of them, Tom Underwood, 15, of Denton Holme, who serves with the Harraby Detachment of the ACF, said he was glad to be part of the event.

Speaking after the service, he said: “I’m proud to be here but you never feel you can ever do as much as they did.

“The more I know about what happened the more I realise there’s a lot more to learn.”

The cross denominational service, which took place at 7pm before the national lights out event, was led by the Very Reverend Mark Boyling, Dean of Carlisle Cathedral.

Representatives from the Catholic, Methodist and United Reformed Churches also took part in the place where, on August 5 1914, the day after war was declared, the Border Regiment marched from the castle to place their colours in the cathedral sanctuary.

More than 100 people gathered in the centre of Workington to commemorate the fallen.

At 10pm, Tony Jackson opened proceedings and people sang wartime songs, heard readings from the war poets and letters home from those on the front line by town mayor Mary Bainbridge, Phil Dryden, Lesley Jackson and Gillian Scholey.

Mrs Jackson organised the event and chose the readings, which included In Flanders Field and Soldier by Rupert Brooks.

She said: “I was overwhelmed by the turnout as we didn’t shout about it, it was quite low key beforehand.”

Cadets, serving soldiers, British Legion representatives and councillors all paid their respects, which included a moment’s silence.

One of those attending was Shirley Hogan, 78, of Calva Road, Seaton, whose great uncle Samuel Ferris, of Workington’s Marsh and Quay, died the day before the war ended, aged 20.

She said the event was poignant for her and she was glad she had attended.

“He was my father’s brother and was killed by a German sniper. When the armistice was declared, my mother had said ‘Samuel’s coming home’. Of course, we didn’t know then he had been killed.”

In Whitehaven, more than 1,000 people paid their respects in Castle Park.

Members of the armed forces, cadets and families all paid tribute to the 622 men from Whitehaven and surrounding areas who gave their lives.

The Whitehaven Male Voice Choir opened the service with God Save The Queen as candles were lit.

Around the memorial 201 candles were alight, with all but one being extinguished at the end.

Ian Fisher, chairman of Bransty British Legion, said: “The people of Whitehaven always come out to support and remember the sacrifices made by our forefathers.

“Tonight we have been part of something special; this is a unique occasion that will only happen once in people’s lives."

The initiative was inspired by a famous remark made on the eve of the outbreak of war by the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, who said: ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.’

When Castle Park was plunged into darkness a two-minute silence followed.

A day of remembrance was held in Penrith’s St Andrew’s Church, culminating in its own candle-lit vigil.

The church opened its doors from 10am yesterday, before Churches Together gathered to host the special vigil and evening service.

Visitors were able to sign the memorial book, set up for the event, before the day’s end was marked with the ringing of the muffled bells.

The congregation then gathered to pay their respects to those who died in the war.

The day was organsied by Penrith Remembers 1914-1918 and also included a special display of First World War-era photographs and memorabilia.

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