Remembering our heroes: Dorset marks centenary of First World War

Remembering our heroes: Dorset marks centenary of First World War

PAYING RESPECTS: Residents gather in front of the memorial on Weymouth seafront

Valerie Leare's tribute to her grandfather

POPPY FIELDS: Poppies are dropped over World War One troop re-enactors at Bovington Tank Museum

CARE HOME EVENT: Mark Bentley and Carol Bentley with resident Alan Stevens

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DORSET remembered as events were held across the county to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.

And services were held across Europe to remember those who fought and died in the conflict.

On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Germany became involved and invaded Luxembourg and Belgium and threatened France. Britain then declared war on August 4.

The conflict would last until November 11, 1918.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who yesterday attended a service at Glasgow Cathedral, said: “It was an extraordinary day in Britain’s history, and when you think that almost every family, almost every community was affected.

“Almost a million British people were lost in this war, it’s right that a hundred years on we commemorate it.”

Prince Harry unveiled a memorial arch in Folkestone to remember the men and women involved in the First World War while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in Belgium for a memorial service at the Allies’ Memorial at Cointe.

At 10pm people switched off their lights across the UK as an act of remembrance and candles were lit.

At 11pm there was a candlelit vigil at Westminster Abbey.

Residents gather on seafront

RESIDENTS of Weymouth gathered to pay their respects at the town’s First World War memorial service.

The service took place at Weymouth War Memorial on the Esplanade, which was led by Rev Dennis Mould.

Mayor of Weymouth and Portland Kate Wheller and representatives from the Royal British Legion attended the service.

Wooden crosses were put down at the memorial during the service to remember the 600 soldiers from the area whose lives were lost during the Great War.

Many of these crosses included dedications from relatives, school pupils and businesses.

Prior to the event, more than 200 Wey Valley School students chose a name from the cenotaph and wrote a message to the soldiers who lost their lives.

Customers at Alf’s Fish and Chip Shop also made dedications.

Councillor Wheller put down the first wooden cross. Speaking after the service, she said: “This is an important day: not to celebrate but for commemoration.

“It’s very important that our young people keep the memories of what their forefathers did for them.”

Naomi Turner, chairman of the Weymouth branch of the Royal British Legion, said she had been planning the service with the council’s support for six months.

She said: “It was exactly the way I wanted it to be. A lot of things are very loud and noisy. This was about personal memories and about people’s own thoughts.

“It was about remembering people who have nobody else to remember them.”

Of all the 600 crosses planted at the memorial, only a handful went without a dedication.

This initially included Valerie Leare’s grandfather, William Bennett, whose name appears on the memorial.

Ms Leare, 71, appeared at the service to pay her respects. She looked for her grandad’s cross among the 600 planted.

She said: “I was talking to Naomi about the crosses and I said I was looking for my grandad. As I turned around and looked, there it was.

“It was like an angel had pointed it out. We have left something on there for my mum. She’ll be 99 in October.”

Holidaymakers Ian Horne, 59, and Amanda Ballinger, 54, watched the service take place and paid their respects.

Amanda said: “I felt very moved. I could even remember my dad because he passed away around eight years ago.

“I can remember him going to every remembrance service with all of his medals and being very proud. It brought a tear to my eye.”

Ian said: “It’s a duty, really. It’s something we should all remember and be thankful for.”

Sea Cadets were also at the service. Harrison Hewitt, 11, from Puddletown, said: “It’s showing our respects, showing respect to those who gave their lives to fight for us. They saved our country. It’s like saying, ‘you helped us so let’s not forget you. It’s important to remember you.’

Re-enactors mark centenary

BOVINGTON Tank Museum held a memorial service and organised battle re-enactments to commemorate the anniversary.

Hundreds of people gathered on the banks outside the museum to watch the demonstrations, and pay their respects to the fallen heroes – and watched as 1.1 million poppy petals were scattered in recognition of the same number of Allied forces’ lives that were lost during the conflict.

The Lord Lieutenant for Dorset, Angus Campbell, read out the Ode of Remembrance before the Last Post and the two minutes silence.

Mr Campbell said: “The service was poignant and the poppy release was quite something. I think it’s very important to embark on four years of commemorations, starting today, to recognise what happened.

“It’s the commemoration of all wars.

“We can never, ever forget what people did, they were hugely courageous.”

With a voiceover providing a running commentary, crowds were treated to an air display by the seven aircraft from the Great War Air Display team, pictured inset, which gave a demonstration on one of the historic air battles that helped define the war.

Following the air battle, the museum revealed its replica Mark IV tank and gave a demonstration on how the Allied soldiers used the tank.

John Ridout, standard bearer for Puddletown, Sam Trott, standard bearer for Beaminster and Norman Pearce, standard bearer for Christchurch, all took part in the service.

Mr Ridout said: “When the poppies were released, they were blown across us. It made us feel proud to be there, it was a real honour and privilege.”

Care home ceremony

STAFF, residents and their family members united to commemorate the centenary of the First World War at a Dorchester care home.

The event at Maiden Castle House care home remembered all those men and women who bravely lost their lives during the conflict.

Talented local musician Elizabeth Carter performed the Last Post bugle call and staff at the home read a selection of poetry by war poets from the First World War.

Home manager Dawn Palmer, said: “We had a lovely day marking the centenary of the First World War with Care South residents and their families. It was an important day for our residents, many of whom had relatives who fought in the conflict.

“We’d like to thank everyone who came along to our event and helped make the day so special.”

Throughout the day, the Gloucester Road home's lounge displayed military memorabilia for visitors to browse, and a representative from Tiger Collectibles was on hand to talk people through the items on offer.

More singing was had by a local singer, who performed a selection of songs from both World Wars, and there was also arts and crafts in reception.

A raffle was held, with all proceeds going towards the Residents’ Amenity Fund.

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