Paying tribute to those who gave lives - The Evesham Observer

Paying tribute to those who gave lives

Evesham Editorial 24th Nov, 2018   0

CHARLTON residents gathered for a poignant ceremony to remember those from the village who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War.

More than 150 people took their places at a packed village church which was decorated with poppies provided by the British Legion to remember those who gave their lives.

Organised by Julian Hawley and Brian Coleman of Help for Heroes, the ceremony saw nine silhouettes of soldiers, awarded to Charlton by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust, placed in the pews to represent each individual young lad of the village who did not return from the war.

The commemoration was preceded by a detailed talk given by Julian Hawley on the stories of each of these young men who fell, their homes and families, lives before the war, the battles they fought in and how they died. This helped bring them to life and enabled everyone present to know them as individual people, not just names on a memorial.

Family members of several of the fallen were in attendance. Edward Witchard of the Royal Navy, who died in the Battle of Jutland in 1916, was represented by eleven of his family, many of whom had travelled considerable distances to be there.

Some of them had never actually met before but the desire to pay respects to their relative had brought them together once again, as a family, in the village in which he grew up. The families of Albert Beale who died at Gallipoli and brothers Reginald and Arthur Hawker who both died were also well represented.

The commemoration ceremony commenced with a procession, to the music of Elgar’s Nimrod, led by the standards of the British Legion and the local Scouts and Cubs, and including members of the uniformed services and military veterans.

After a moving reading of Macrae’s In Flanders Fields by Ian Baldry of Help For Heroes, musicians and singers from Charlton sang two pieces, Willie McBride, a lament for a fallen soldier and The lads in Their Hundreds, composed by George Butterworth who himself was killed on the Somme.

After an appropriate introduction, the name, regiment and age of each of the fallen was read out by a Charlton villager, seated by the appropriate silhouette.

All were in their twenties or younger. Wreaths were then laid on the war memorial by Sgt Nathan Hinchey of the British Army and PCSO Chris Tugwell from the local community police force. The principal wreath was then laid by the niece of Albert Beale.

After a dedication read by a veteran, the Last Post was played by a bugler on the balcony at the back of the church, followed by a minute’s silence and then Reveille. The standards were appropriately dipped and raised. The ceremony concluded with a blessing by the parish priest Sarah Dangerfield and the National Anthem was sung, prior to the standards processing out of the church.

All then moved to the recently refurbished Old Schoolroom where the Charlton ladies had provided a splendid array of refreshments including ‘Trench Cake’ and a display of war memorabilia had been set up.

Speaking after the event, Ian Baldry said: “This was a very moving event, some tears were shed and many emotions were felt.

“Charlton is proud to have done justice to the memory of the lads of the village who never came home 100 years ago.”

The proceeds of the collection have been divided between the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes

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