August 4, 2014, is the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War; the war that at the time was proclaimed to be the war that would end all wars. Sadly, history has proved that this was not to be the case.
The First World War was, though, the war that would change things – people, families, communities and attitudes. It also changed the way that war was conducted and created mass destruction on a scale never seen before. It was felt at the time that the war would be over by Christmas, lasting a mere 4 months, whereas it lasted 4 years. Some historians believe that between 16 and 20 million military and civilians lost their lives, with a further 21 million people wounded. In the worst day of the war, 19,240 British deaths were recorded. Then there are the forgotten heroes, such as the one million horses that went to the war, only 62,000 came back. This truly was a catastrophic event.
We at Greasley Church have a war memorial which lists the names of those from our area who lost their lives in both the first and second world wars. Like many other churches and organisations throughout this country, along with Greasley Parish Council, we will be holding various events including an exhibition and a church service to commemorate the start of the First World War. I must stress the word “commemorate”, that is, we will recognise and acknowledge that the war happened. It is not in any way a celebration of the war – far from it, the aim is not to glorify war, but to highlight what happened 100 years ago, so that everyone, especially our young people, can learn from the mistakes of previous generations. At the same time, we will honour those who gave their lives for their country.
I am hoping that many people will contribute to this event and welcome any input they might offer. Maybe you are able to loan artefacts from the First World War era for us to display in a secure environment; perhaps you would like to participate by offering your time, expertise and experience. If so, please contact me on 01773 712509 or Andrew Marshall, Greasley Parish Council clerk on 01773 719665 so that we can pass your details to the relevant organisers.