Armistice Day 100 years on, 1918-2018
There has been a national effort to make this year extra special to honour a whole generation of young people who lost their lives in such horrendous conditions.
They Shall Not Grow Old, Peter Jackson's amazing treatment of old black and white footage has captured a snapshot of every day life back then. What touched me was that they all looked so cheerful even in the hellhole they found themselves. How can we ever thank them for giving us the freedoms we enjoy today.
Special events have been taking place up and down the country, for example 'Shrouds of the Somme' is an installation of over 72,000 figures wrapped in shrouds. This is the number of allied troops who lost their lives at the Somme and whose bodies were never found, so were never buried. Towns and villages have been decorating their War Memorials and commemorative services were held.
Here are some photos collected by me over the last few months and from the day itself:
This group of photos was taken in August where the whole of Sevenoaks town centre was themed in red:
Images like the one below have appeared alongside war memorials throughout the country
The war memorial in a nearby village was decorated and the names and details of all the fallen recorded individually. It was incredibly moving to read the details. The following photos have come from various different sources as we were unable to attend.
In the evening people gathered at the memorial, torches were lit (one for each local life lost) and carried by villagers to the beacon nearby followed by a service in the church. Sadly we were unable to attend as I was marking the occasion in a different way and didn't get back in time (more on that later).
My Armistice Day was commemorated by taking part in a running challenge event at Samphire Hoe near Dover and I can't think of a more moody place to be on such a sad day. The weather contributed to the atmosphere by being epic - I can't think of a better way to describe it.
The route had to be changed due to extremely high waves along the seawall. We were up on the top of the hills and could see them about 30 feet high on occasion. When we set off there was torrential rain followed by hailstones which hurt! The wind was really strong no matter which way the route took us and you were battered from the front, back and sides at different points throughout the route. Again the photos have come from several different people.
Once or twice the sky cleared and the sun came out briefly before the sky went black again and the the rain came.
There was some slippery mud to negotiate.
Somehow it felt right that conditions were tough but they were nowhere near as tough as the trenches. I felt really reflective and wasn't quite as bubbly as usual.
We had been told that we'd hear the canons fired from Dover at 11am and that the marshalls would blow whistles so we could pause for 2 minutes silence. However, the wind was too strong and very noisy so Traviss positioned marshalls along the course and they held banners up when the time came and we held a mass race freeze. That in itself was really moving as even the dog-walkers joined in and stood in silence, but also looking out over the channel at a roiling sea and thinking about the fallen soldiers was incredibly sad.
This wasn't the only marathon held on the day and my talented friend Heather had created 2 magnificent cakes, one for each event:
|This was for our event.|
|This for Rik's event. There were over 1000 poppies were all handmade of sugar paste. Seen here with the medal.|
|This was our medal.|