Solihull – VIJAY SHAH via DAVID IRWIN and BirminghamLive
The central England town of Solihull, which lies close to the major city of Birmingham, has launched a World War I historical exhibition to commemorate the locals who gave their lives and who fought gallantly in the ‘Great War’, which saw its centenary last year. The exhibition will feature tales of an underage soldier, a recipient of the Victoria Cross, and two soldier siblings who perished within two hours of each other on the gloomy battlefields of continental Europe.
An under-age soldier, Victoria Cross winner and 2 brothers who died within hours of each other are among servicemen whose stories are told in Solihull's latest WWI exhibition. Solihull Remembers 1914-1918 is at The Core's Heritage Gallery until 2 Feb 2019. https://t.co/GonmwOOBbI
As reported by city paper the Birmingham Mail and featured on its BirminghamLive news portal, the exhibition, entitled ‘Solihull Remembers 1914-1918’ is being held at the The Core’s Heritage Gallery. The Core is a council-owned community building based in the city’s Touchwood district. The event will run until 2nd of February, 2019, organisers say.
The exhibition will feature detailed displays and imagery of the time, as well as telling the stories of Solihull residents who answered the call for their country. It is the result of four years of painstaking research by the heritage and local studies service of Solihull Council, who uncovered the accounts of 800 Solihullians who died in World War I. In addition to telling stories from the front line, the exhibition will also show the public the contributions of women who joined auxiliary staff who assisted the war effort, often facing grave dangers themselves.
Tracey Williams, a council heritage and local studies librarian who was leader of the research team at the council that researched the material for the exhibits, told the Birmingham Mail: “At the latest count we have 811 casualties … the challenge has been to bring their stories to life, so it isn’t just a list of names.
“Unfortunately there are still some people we have not been able to identify, which when you consider what they went through is quite upsetting.”
Local councillor Joe Tildesley, who is cabinet member for leisure, tourism and sport and himself a descendant of a World War I soldier, praised the ‘tremendous work’ that went into organising the exhibition. He said: “It’s important that we remember all those who were killed in action,”. Solihull’s mayor, Flo Nash, who officially opened the exhibition, added: “This helps you appreciate what people lost all those years ago,”
“So many young people lost their lives and so many families lost loved ones.”
In a sombre ceremony of remembrance, wreaths were laid at a memorial to the fallen officers situated at Forest Gatepolice station on Romford Road in the north of the borough, in the east of London. Attended by local dignitaries and serving police personnel, the memorial, known as the Operation Valour stone, commemorates the 23 police officers who gave their lives for their country in WWI. The officers were members of the old ‘K Division’ which was made up of policemen from what is now Newham and the neighbouring boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, and Barking and Dagenham. The Forest Gate memorial established by Operation Valour was laid a year ago.
The K Division of the Metropolitan Police, the police force that covers most of London, was established in the wake of the Metropolitan Police Act 1829 which was the beginnings of a city-wide policing service. Over the next seventeen years, new divisions were created, of which the K Division covered the old county borough of West Ham. The other divisions were also assigned alphabetical letters, with A (Westminster), B (Chelsea), C (Mayfair and Soho), D (Marylebone), E (Holborn), F (Kensington), G (Kings Cross), H (Stepney), L (Lambeth), M (Southwark), N (Islington), P (Peckham), R (Greenwich), S (Hampstead), T (Hammersmith) and V (Wandsworth). These were then followed by extra divisions added in 1865, W covering Clapham, X for Willesden, Y for Holloway and J for Bethnal Green.
As with many other occupations and millions of other men during the First World War, policemen were conscripted to fight against the enemy and many never returned from the battlefields of Belgium and France.
At the ceremony, wreaths were laid by the borough of Newham’s police commissioner Cmdr. Tony Nash, the deputy mayor Cllr. Lester Hudson, council member for Forest Gate Cllr. Unmesh Desai, who is also the Cabinet member for crime and anti-social behaviour and representing the police themselves, PC Imran Uddin, the youngest serving officer in Newham.
Out of the 281 police from the K Division who enlisted to fight, 22 died in combat. The 23rd officer was killed by an explosion at a munitions factory in Newham’s southern district of Silvertown in 1917.
At the ceremony, Cllr. Hudson said: “This memorial stone allows residents (of Newham) to pay their respects as well as giving officers a strong everyday connection to their fallen colleagues”, the Newham Mag quoted.
The Operation Valour memorial, which is carved from simple white marble, bears two inscriptions, one of which reads: “The Glorious Dead – ‘K’ Division’ – The Great War – 1914-1918” and then lists the names and ranks of the fallen police officers in alphabetical order of surname. It was laid last year (2014) as part of celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of hostilities in 1914.
“Fallen police officers remembered” – The Newham Mag [Issue 322], Newham Council, (14th August 2015)
New Year’s Day may have been a time of happiness for most, but for the Scottish football club Rangers FC, their fans and for many in Scotland, New Year’s Day 2011 was a time for remembrance for 66 fans who perished in a stampede at the club’s ground in Glasgow forty years ago at the time of the memorial service, which took place in January. The Ibrox disaster of 1971 also saw 200 people injured in the darkest day of the team’s history.
Thousands of people gathered at the Rangers FC home ground in Glasgow in January 2011 to remember one of the darkest chapters in Glaswegian and Scottish football history, reported The Scotsman newspaper today in a past New Year’s events commemoration. Four years ago, the special service was attended by relatives, families and friends of those who died. Many survivors of the Ibrox disaster, despite the onset of old age, also attended to pay their respects to their fallen friends. At the time of the disaster, a match between Rangers and their rivals Celtic was taking place and players from both teams also honoured those who died at the service.
They made a vow to always remember those who perished in the disaster, in which fans attempting to leave the stadium were crushed to death as they tried to leave through overcrowded gates after the conclusion of the game. The incident occurred on the Stairway 13 part of the Old Firm’s Ibrox Stadium, then called Ibrox Park. At that time, 80,000 fans were on the stalls for the Rangers vs. Celtic clash and safety concerns had been raised about the standard of Ibrox’s passageways after two fans died in an earlier stampede. Among the dead in the 1971 disaster included several children, including five school friends from the town of Markinch in Fife. Rangers FC admitted responsibility for the disaster and were later sued by several families of victims.
The tragedy was described by Martin Bain, Rangers’ chief executive, as a “tragedy beyond belief“, according to The Scotsman.
The service was attended by around 5,000 people, including past and present Rangers players, including John Greig, the team captain at the time of the disaster, whose statue forms part of a memorial to the victims of both the 1971 tragedy and a similar incident that occurred at the turn of last century. The Celtic side were represented by manager Neil Lennon, chairman John Reid and chief executive Peter Lawwell.
Victims’ relatives and the footballers placed bouquets of blue and white flowers, the team colours of Rangers at the stand as the current manager Walter Smith, a survivor of the tragedy, and Greig solemnly read out the names of the fans who did not return home that fateful day. As the act of commemoration, several relatives were reported to have turned and saluted to the stand where their loved ones watched the game.
The Celtic chairman then also laid a wreath in his team’s colours of green and white before the crowd, who had gathered at the Govan East Corner area of the stadium, fell silent for two minutes as an act of remembrance. Following this, the Rangers chief executive addressed the mourners, describing the events of January 1971 as an “unimaginable horror“.
He said “January 2, 1971, is a date that will be forever etched deeply into the soul of the Rangers family. Each year we remember with the heaviest of hearts and wish for all the world that the fate of those on Stairway 13 had been so different.
“Forty years may now have passed, but as Willie Waddell said at the time, the scar is deep. It still is, and always will be.”
Martin Bain then went on to recollect to the gathered how Rangers and Celtic put aside their sporting rivalry to rally together and support each other, both fans and officials.
“Rivalries do run deep – sometimes too deep – but at the core of it all is a common bond, and that is a love of football,” he explained. “A game of football should and does bring joy, happiness, frustration and disappointment in different measure, but it should never bring tragedy and disaster.“
To the relatives and friends of those lost, and those who survived Stairway 13, his message was a simple one of remembrance.
“We cannot fully comprehend your grief, your anguish, your torment, or your suffering, but we can come together today to offer you our comfort,” he vowed. “There is a heartfelt desire among all of us to remember and never forget.“
The service was presided over by local Christian clergy, in particular the Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie, who himself was a survivor who was watching the match from the Copland Road terracing at the time the crush occurred. Rev. MacQuarrie described the tragic events as a “personal tragedy” for the families left behind.
After the Reverend’s address, a lifelong Rangers fan, Ian Loch, another survivor, read an extract from a speech famous among the club’s fans. Entitled ‘To Be a Ranger‘, it was originally delivered by past manager, Bill Struth.
“No matter the days of anxiety that come our way, we shall emerge stronger because of the trials to be overcome,” he told the crowd. “That has been the philosophy of the Rangers since the days of the gallant pioneers.”
There was also a musical element to the memorial service as the Glasgow Philharmonic Male Voice Choir and the Salvation Army and Govan Citadel band led the crowd in the hymns The Lord is My Shepherd, Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah and Follow On. A large banner was seen suspended from the Bill Struth Stand, which stated: ‘In our hearts forever’. Several Scottish figureheads of government and religion also paid their respects along with fans, including the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Bob Winter, Nicola Sturgeon, then the country’s Deputy First Minister, the Right Rev John Christie, the moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, and the Most Rev Mario Conti, Glasgow’s archbishop.
The British newspaper the Sunday Times, based in London, has released a commemorative image on their Twitter account today honouring the fallen who gave their lives for the country since the beginning of the First World War in 1914. The image depicts poppies produced for Remembrance Sunday every year by the Poppy Appeal, a charity which raises money for people affected from conflict, particularly ex-service members. The image also appeared simultaneously on the Sunday Times‘ parent newspaper, The Times.
The verse “At the going down of the sun. And in the morning. We will remember them” comes from the poem ‘For the Fallen‘ by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943). Binyon wrote this poem while sitting on a clifftop facing the Cornwall coast in mid September 1914, a few weeks after the outbreak of the First World War. British and German casualties had already begun to escalate. Binyon was too old to fight in the war and took on a role as a medical orderly, treating the wounded in field hospitals. Tragically, his brother-in-law and several close friends perished fighting on the front line. He was said to have penned ‘For the Fallen’ after being moved by the opening of the ‘Great War’ and the sheer loss of life experienced by the British Expeditionary Force. Around 16 million civilians and military personnel perished during the four years of history’s first truly global war. 2014 marks the centenary of the beginning of World War I.
Laurence Binyon’s poem was published in full by the Times newspaper on the 21st September 1914. The full poem is reproduced below, courtesy of the All Poetry website:
For The Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children, England mourns for her dead across the sea. Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit, Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres, There is music in the midst of desolation And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young, Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted; They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; They sit no more at familiar tables of home; They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound, Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, To the innermost heart of their own land they are known As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, To the end, to the end, they remain.