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World War 1 Commemorations

Jan McNulty

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Over the last couple of weeks there have been a number of commemoration events that I have heard about.


Sadly I only saw the TV highlights of the Giants event in Liverpool last weekend.  I have seen photographs on the internet of the Ice miniatures event that took place in Birmingham yesterday.


Yesterday evening I was at The Lowry to see a tango show and there was an open air event starting at 22:00 at Media City.




This was a multi-media event based on the words of the War Poets and the stories of ordinary men and women.  I missed the first couple of minutes.  When I arrived it was to see a huge screen across the front of a building.  There were some people on the stage and the words being spoken seemed to be the words of poems or letters.


Suddenly the screen sprang to life with archive footage of men in the trenches and going over the top.  The soundtrack of exploding mortars was suddenly augmented by fireworks going off on the top of the building and giant spotlights flashing onto the audience.  It was an incredibly evocative and moving couple of minutes - you could almost imagine what it must have been like under constant bombardment in the trenches.


As the images faded some dancers appeared on the stage - Phoenix Dance Theatre - who seemed to be doing a very anguished dance - perhaps people suffering from shock.  As that section ended an enormous choir started filing onto the stage for the final section of the event.  A young boy performed Pie Jesu before the choir started singing and the screen was filled with words, fragments of sentences in both English and German and letters.  As the singing moved into a final, moving, choral piece the image on the screen changed to poppies floating down from the sky.  It was a compelling image.


Despite the torrential rain earlier in the day the evening was dry and I would estimate a couple of thousand people attended this ultimately moving event.


I am sure more people will have seen events in their area.  I would love to hear about them.

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"Lights Out" for one hour at 10pm UK time tonight.


A small family pilgrimage, extending to the fourth generation, will go over to France later this month to be in the Le Cateau area on 26/27 August.  The purpose: to commemorate my maternal grandfather whose war with the BEF came to an end that night in the confused - later, controversial - circumstances surrounding the withdrawal of 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders after the battle there.

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