Llandudno celebrates the start of the Great War

3 08 2014

When I saw the yellow roads signs on Mostyn Street last week I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate, I mean commemorate, the start of great war.

WW1 Llandudno March

100th Anniversary of the Start of World War 1 March through Llandudno on Sunday 3rd August 2014

August 2014 will see the 100th Anniversary of the start of the First World War. However, we in the Royal British Legion, North Wales, believe that it would not be appropriate to commemorate, on a large scale, the start of what was to become the greatest loss of life we have ever known. However, we also believe that everyone should be reminded of the start of this terrible conflict. With this in mind the RBL North Wales are organising a march through Llandudno, on Sunday 3 August 2014. Those taking part will muster at 1000 hrs at the Coach Park and then march, with two bands, through the town to the War Memorial. Here we will hold a short service before marching off down the Promenade.

The parade will be made up of Veterans, drawn from the many Service Associations across North Wales, members of the Armed Forces, public services (police, fire brigade etc) and Youth Organisations. In 1914 many young men marched to their recruiting places behind the local village/town/city band; to remind people of this we will be including both the Llandudno and the Buckley Town Bands.

We have already contacted a number of those who will be involved in this parade, including the Lords Lieutenant of Clwyd and Gwynedd; all have given their support as part of the Armed Forces Community Covenant, for what we believe will be a simple, but moving, ceremony. We hope that in 2018 we will hold a larger event to remember all those who gave their lives 100 years ago so that we may enjoy the freedom that we, and our children, have today.

I would be grateful if you could inform me, using the address/form below, whether you, or your organisation, would wish to take part in this ceremony.

David Drysdale, Lt Col RM
President Colwyn Bay Branch RBL
Event Organiser

I went to Llandudno’s branch of Marks and Spencer’s to look for cords and saw an advert for candles on their front doors;

We’re encouraging everyone in the UK to turn off their lights between 10pm and 11pm on 4 August 2014 – leaving only a single light or candle for this symbolic act of reflection and hope.

Limited edition Centenary candleYou can buy your limited edition Centenary candle now from M&S online for £4, with all profit coming to The Royal British Legion.

We hope to light one million candles across the UK to remember each and every one of those Service men and women who gave their lives in the war to end all wars. Please join together with us to create a unique national moment for the United Kingdom and The Royal British Legion. Find out how you can get involved here.

Westminster Abbey will be leading the nation with a First World War vigil liturgy which will be broadcast live on the BBC.

We’ve put together some resources to help you organise a commemorative event in your local area. Find out more about how to organise a LIGHTS OUT event here.

In 2014 using unofficial candles to celebrate the start of the great war with a LIGHTS OUT EVENT™ is the faux pas to end all faux pas.

The commemoration of the war to end all wars, with its 37 million casualties, should probably involve a little solemnity. The British Legion has opted for “Lights Out Events” with resources – paper hats and crackers? – instead.  The simple act of remembering through quiet contemplation is so 20th century.

You can see an unnerving celebratory tone to in the following quote from the organizer of Llandudno’s event;

In 1914 many young men marched to their recruiting places behind the local village/town/city band; to remind people of this we will be including both the Llandudno and the Buckley Town Bands.

Yes, let’s celebrate the glee with which young men leapfrogged down to their recruiting offices!!! Let’s celebrate an atmosphere like this;

“…..civic pride and community spirit prompted cities to compete with each other and attract the greatest possible number of new recruits.

This boosted the already heady scent of patriotism that saw men queuing outside enlisting posts within hours of war being declared, their ‘moustached archaic faces / Grinning as if it were all / An August Bank Holiday lark…’ (Philip Larkin). The Times reported that it took the recruiting officer at Great Scotland Yard 20 minutes to get through the waiting crowds on 4 August; by 7 August mounted police were necessary to keep control.

In Accrington, recruitment began on 14 September, with 104 men accepted for service in the first three hours. Brothers, cousins, friends and workmates enlisted together and within ten days the Accrington Pals had reached full strength of some 1,000 men. The situation in Sheffield was similar. Doors opened on 10 September and the new battalion reached full strength in only two days, no doubt encouraged by the optimistic placards reading ‘To Berlin – via Corn Exchange’ where the recruitment was taking place. The Sheffield volunteers, like so many others, were a cross-section of society, including stockbrokers, students, journalists, clerks, teachers and shop assistants.”

Is an unknowing headlong rush to be killed something to be celebrated? The organiser’s quote most like refers to the groups of friends that enlisted together, the charmingly entitled “Pals’ Battalions”. This was the fate that befell quite a few of the “Pals’ Battalions”;

“The battle on 1 July marked the army’s greatest single loss in its history, with 60,000 casualties, of which 20,000 were dead. The Pals Battalions suffered accordingly: of the 720 Accrington Pals who participated, 584 were killed, wounded or missing in the attack. The Leeds Pals lost around 750 of the 900 participants and both the Grimsby Chums and the Sheffield City Battalion lost around half of their men.”

Is this level of death something to celebrate with a jovial marching band? The British Legion should gone whole hog and asked Kellogg’s to sponsor a celebration called “Remembering the GRRRRREAT War with Frosties”

It beats me how you can celebrate a war in this fashion. War is death and destruction, whether you lived in Ypres between 1914 and 1918…..

ypres1915

Daily_Mail_Postcard_-_Ypres_after_two_years_of_war

…..or live in the Gaza Strip in 2014.

If a necessary war led to an indisputably noble conclusion there are nebulous crumbs of comfort to be found, but where was the nobility in the outcome of the first world war? The curtailment of Germany’s imperial aspirations is scarcely enough, especially when we consider the fact that the post-war treaties allowed Britain and France to broaden their empires.

What kind of world did the victorious powers create? They planted the seeds of World War Two in the post war treaties and allowed hyperinflation and poverty to ruin millions of ordinary lives. As for Britain, it took an even more destructive conflict before the British ruling class felt able to provide a welfare state and create that home fit for heroes.

Do we need to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One? Don’t we already have Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day every November?

 

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