Thatcham WW1 Armistice Centenary
The rain stopped in plenty of time for Thatcham’s annual Remembrance Parade held on Sunday 11th November. Over 600 participants paraded from the Kingsland Centre to the War Memorial on Brownsfield Road, consisting of members of the armed forces, the Royal British Legion, local dignitaries and adult and youth groups. The crowds of people lining the streets were significantly larger in this centenary year.
The service at the War Memorial was led by Reverend Mark Bennet, with readings from members of the Royal British Legion and in this significant year, Mr Nathan Gregory, Chairman of Thatcham Memorial Hall & Playing Fields Foundation who read the names of the World War One servicemen who had recently been added to the War Memorial following months of research.
Cold Ash Brass Band and St Mary’s Church Choir provided the music and the community joined in with the hymns whilst the wreaths were laid. The parade then proceeded to St Mary’s Church to complete the Act of Remembrance.
In the evening Thatcham Town Council returned to St. Mary’s Church, participating along with hundreds of other towns and parishes across the UK in the national celebrations “Battles Over: A Nations Tribute.”
Around 200 people gathered in the churchyard to hear the Roll of Honour 1914-1918 read by Councillors Mike Cole and Rob Denton-Powell and the “Tribute to the Millions” read by the Town Mayor, Councillor Jan Cover. A cornetist from Cold Ash Brass then played The Last Post before a gas beacon was lit at 7pm, corresponding with hundreds of beacons of lit across the country. St. Mary’s Church bells then rang out in jubilation whilst people took their seats inside the church for a celebratory concert.
The concert featured poignant poems and readings, beautiful choral performances by St. Mary’s Church Choir and music from Cold Ash Brass. Lance Corporal Liam Hume from Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers read a letter written by a soldier at the time of World War One whilst the choir hummed Abide by Me. Another poignant moment when Cold Ash Brass played “The Fallen” whilst a roll of honour with photos of the servicemen was projected onto the wall of the church. Each audience member was supplied with a union flag which they eagerly waved during the audience participation part of “Songs They Took to War.” The penultimate performance was the debut of a specially commissioned piece written for that evening’s concert and performed by Cold Ash Brass before the audience stood for the National Anthem.
During the concert the commemorative book, Thatcham The Great War 1914-1918 was launched. It contains information about all the servicemen that appear on the Church Roll of Honour and the War Memorial. Written by Dr Nick Young, with research from Nathan Gregory, Clive Williams, Phil Wood and Sue Ellis. The book has been published by Thatcham Town Council and is available from the Council Offices free of charge, thanks to a grant from Greenham Trust.
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