My aunt and uncle had invited us to help their village celebrate 100 years since the end of WW1 and we were very excited to be taking part in an armistice celebration. The event took place in the Ellen Petit memorial hall, on the high street, next to the Swan pub. The event was completely free for the public and our services were of course for free too. We arrived bright and early about a quarter to eight to set up. The hall was starting to look splendid with flags, poppies and various displays connected to WW1.
We had bought a random selection of our artefacts and objects along to represent the soldiers and the nurses who treated them. Our first customers of the day appeared just before ten and the event was set to run till about 1pm. I must admit in my mind I had wondered if it would just be a handful of people over the day, but from 10am till close we barely had a chance to sit for more than a few seconds. It was lovely to meet so many people from the community, particularly so many older people who had some interesting stories to share about their parents or grandparents. One gentleman had brought along the original letter written by a Captain of the war to his family, explaining the sad circumstances of the death of his uncle who had been a Lewis gunner in 1916, which was an interesting fact as we had believed previously that they weren’t used till 1917 but there was the evidence in front of us.
Another lady there had a display set up about her grandfather and her journey to find out about him, which was so similar to my own. Sadly we were so busy that we never had time to go over and look at her stand.
Rousing WW1 tunes played over the speaker as we chatted to the public. The day started with many older people but gradually as the day went on, more children had appeared. They had spent time in school painting poppies which were displayed in the hall. Of course there was the ubiquitous British tea & cake too and we’d like to send a huge thank you to everyone there for supplying us with so much tea. Magic cups of tea and pieces of cake kept appearing, including trench cake which was something that the soldiers would have been familiar with. It was made with out eggs but vinegar instead. I could imagine many soldiers at the front being very pleased to receive a parcel from home with trench cake in to make a break from their usual rather boring rations. Everything would be shared fairly by the soldiers with their mates. If someone received a cake, it was shared by all.
The most popular object on our display, I think was the prosthetic leg that we have. It meant so much to people to see something like that as it really helped to bring home the realities of war. Along with the pieces of shell fragment, along with our newly acquired shell. It helped people to understand a little more of the horrors that the soldiers had to go through.
It was an honour to see a couple of real soldiers attending the event and Wel was honoured to be asked to have a photo taken with the WW1 sculpture and the real sergeant.
The day went so quickly, I half wish it had gone on a bit longer as it was so lovely to chat to everyone. Such a special effort had been made by everyone there. The villages memorial will continue today with various events.