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Hundreds gather for WW1 commemorations in Cheadle

By Cheadle Post and Times  |  Posted: July 31, 2014

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HUNDREDS of people attended a special church service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.

In honour and remembrance of the 88 men and boys who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War of 1914 to 1918, and their living relatives, a commemoration service took place at St Giles the Abbott Parish Church on Sunday, July 27.

As the congregation filled the church, Uttoxeter Brass Band played a medley of traditional songs.

Leading the service Father James Rosie, parish priest of Cheadle and Freehay, said: "As you can imagine, the church commemorates all sorts of anniversaries of one kind or another throughout the year.

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"Some are a good excuse for a party, a sense of things achieved, and congratulations.

"Today marks the beginning of a commemorative experience which won't be a celebration and it will last for four if not five years.

"We're trying to encapsulate the whole experience of the Great War.

"Think back to 100 years ago to the young men and women from this parish in June 1914; hopes were high, principals certain and patriotism was a badge worn with pride.

"As the Great War began there was a sense of excitement and adventure and expectation that the troops would be back by Christmas or shortly thereafter; we now know better.

"Occasionally we might meet a person who is prepared to say 'we shouldn't be marking this anniversary at all; perhaps it has too great a hold on us, perhaps we should just let it go.

"But this centenary is important as we all carry a sense of the sacrifice made.

"No one can truly be sure how many people's lives were lost or scarred by this conflict.

"There is a suggestion that perhaps 20 million died and another 20 million survived, but bore the scars, physical and mental, for the rest of their lives.

"Figures don't justify the whole story of the sacrifice that was passed on from that generation.

"It's not just about people losing their lives, but the manner of their dying.

"More people in the Great War died on the battlefield compared to from disease than in any other conflict.

"At least six million families sent their sons to war and never discovered what happened to them; all they have is the phrase 'Known To God' by their names on war memorials.

"These were our flesh and blood who we waved off; our young who we put our hopes in, and not only did they lose their lives for their country, but we will never know their final hours.

"But we have kept our faith in them and however they died we honour their sacrifice.

"There are no shortage of historians broadcasting and publishing material helping in our self-dedication.

"The Great War changed our world so dramatically from the introduction of modern warfare, changes in the social expectations and role of women, to the collapse of the social empire; the world moved swiftly to what we now know it to be.

"There are still questions about the appropriate use of military intervention and when does national loyalty give way to global loyalty, all of which are relevant to conflicts today.

"This is an anniversary and a lesson in peace making and keeping as we go on remembering our solemn gratitude for the Great War and enduring peace in our time.

Concluding the service Uttoxeter Brass Band led the congregation in a rendition of the National Anthem 'God Save The Queen'.

Everyone filed out of the church and Cheadle town mayor councillor Ron Locker released 'Doves of Peace' outside the church (Pictured).

The service was followed by a reception at The Manor in Town End, where relatives of the fallen soldiers were presented with special commemoration medals.

Mr Locker said: "This reception is to honour the men from Cheadle who served us so gallantly during World War 1 and I am delighted to see so many families here to receive commemorative medals on their behalf.

"I would like to thank the hard working volunteers from a number of groups who have helped to organise today's events namely Cheadle Royal British Legion, Cheadle Town Council, Cheadle Historical society and Cheadle Discovery Group.

"Today also marks the start of a Heritage Lottery funded project entitled 'Cheadle Remembers the Great War'.

"The project aims to find out more about the people who served locally as well as build a picture of rural life in Cheadle during Word War 1."

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