Folkestone children took part in a poignant commemoration of the last day of the Battle of the Somme last Saturday.
To mark 100 years since the end of the British army’s bloodiest battle, families and schools from the area came together on the Leas on the morning of Saturday 19 November 2016 to plant hundreds of steel poppies around the artwork Folk Stones.
Created by artist Mark Wallinger for the 2008 Folkestone Triennial, Folk Stones features 19,240 numbered pebbles representing the British servicemen lost on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Wallinger himself attended Saturday’s event along with the Mayor and Mayoress of Folkestone, Martin and Sheila Salmon, Folkestone and Hythe MP and Step Short’s Chairman Damian Collins, and organisers Roger Joyce of Shepway HEART Forum and Ann Berry of Step Short.
The local community turned out in their hundreds, including pupils from St Martin’s, St Eanswythe’s, St Mary’s and Sandgate primary schools.
According to Centenary News, Martin Salmon said: “Today’s proceedings are a fitting way that this town can remember the sacrifices made to enable us to live in freedom and peace 100 years later.
“At their peak, the three camps in the town were seeing in excess of 10,000 men passing through every day. The rest camps were a blessing for the men, for many of whom it was their final day on English soil.”
Roger Joyce, Chairman of Shepway HEART, read a poem written by Eric Berridge, an officer from Folkestone who died during the Battle of the Somme.
Damian Collins said: “What has been wonderful throughout this series of important and poignant centenaries is that people have demonstrated their interest, and their understanding, and their desire for remembrance and commemoration of these terrible events and the sacrifices that men made.”
On the evening of Remembrance Day, Sunday 13 November 2016, Bugler Bryan Walker played under the Step Short Memorial Arch for the last time before retiring.
Bryan has played the Last Post every Sunday at 7pm for Step Short, from the first Sunday in August until Remembrance Sunday, for the last few years. This event is timed to coincide with the Last Post played daily at the Menin Gate, Ypres in Belgium – a memorial to British and Commonwealth WW1 soldiers who were lost in battle on the Ypres Salient and whose graves are unknown.
Step Short would like to thank Bryan for his great commitment, and send him the very best wishes for retirement. We look forward to continuing this moving service next year with a newly appointed bugler.
Step Short’s annual Armistice Day service took place under the Memorial Arch on the Leas at 11.00am on Friday 11 November 2016.
The event was well-attended by the local community, including schools Stella Maris Catholic Primary and Folkestone Primary Academy.
Bugler Kevin Bradley played the Last Post and Reveille; and Piper Ben Millbery played the Lament Flowers of the Forest. Wreaths were laid and poppies attached to the railings close to the top of the Road of Remembrance.
Don’t forget that there are a number of events taking place in Folkestone this November to remember the servicemen and women lost during past and more recent conflicts.
Armistice Day on 11 November 2016 will be marked at Cheriton Rd Cemetery, Folkestone. The Machine Gun Corps Ceremony consists of a short service and two minute silence held at 11am.
Step Short will also hold a service at the Memorial Arch on the Leas between 10.30 and 11.30am.
A live webcast of the Royal British Legion’s ‘Silence in the Square’ event on Armistice Day from Trafalgar Square, London will also be available on the British Legion website.
The annual Remembrance Day Parade in Folkestone takes place on Sunday 13 November at the War Memorial on the Road of Remembrance from 10.45am to 11.30am.
On Saturday 19 November at 11am, Poppies on the Leas will mark 100 years since the end of the bloody Battle of the Somme. Local schoolchildren will plant 1,000 symbolic metal poppies close to the Folk Stones artwork on the Leas. Mark Wallinger’s piece features 19,240 numbered pebbles representing the British men who died during the first day of the battle.
After five bloody months, the devastating Battle of the Somme finally came to an end on 19 November 1916. To mark the 100th anniversary of the event, a special ceremony will take place on the Leas in Folkestone at 11am on Saturday 19th November.
A symbolic planting of 1,000 metal poppies by local schoolchildren is planned close to the ‘Folk Stones’ artwork by Mark Wallinger. This piece represents the 19,240 British men who were lost during the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
The planting will be followed by a short ceremony to be attended by Folkestone Mayor Martin Salmon, the artist Mark Wallinger and town councillors. The event is open to the public.