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Lights dimmed to mark shadow of conflict - 100 years from outbreak of First World War

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 04, 2014

By Laura Hammond

  • OFF TO BATTLE . . . Allied troops marching through a town in the Meuse region of France on their way to the front.

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WHEN the clock strikes 11 this evening, it will be exactly 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.

It was at this time on August 4, 1914, that an entire generation fell under the shadow of conflict, and the world would never be the same again. This momentous occasion will be marked around the country with services, activities and commemorative events – and this area will be no different.

Two church services will be taking place in Stretton and Tutbury this evening at a time to coincide with the declaration of war. The services – both of which are in the St Mary's Church in the respective villages – will begin at 10pm and will be conducted by candlelight.

In Tutbury, the candles will be gradually extinguished through the service until 11pm, when the last one will go out. Those attending will be asked to take along a candle or a torch.

It is symbolic of the statement made by Sir Edward Grey, who was foreign secretary at the time of the outbreak of war, who said: "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our time."

In Stretton, the final candle will be extinguished by James Pickering, of Stretton Scouts, following a service conducted by the Reverend Kim Thomas.

Prior to that important moment, a song will be performed by Burton vocalist Andy Last.

Malcolm Goode, the historian and Stretton parish councillor who has organised the service, told the Mail he wanted it to reflect the national mood at the time.

He added: "It was not a mood of sadness and remorse – that will come later in this commemorative period – the mood that very quickly permeated across Great Britain was one of excitement, among the menfolk certainly, and one of patriotic fervour. It was a chance to serve their king and country."

For people who do not attend these services, there will still be the chance to get involved, as every household in the UK is being urged to switch off their lights in the hour leading to 11pm.

Former Army captain Jon Wheale, who is Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Burton, spoke out to encourage people to flick the switch to mark the occasion.

He said: "The centenary anniversary is a unique opportunity for us to commemorate those who served and sacrificed for us on the front line and the home front, and to think about the profound impact the war had on our society.

"I hope people across East Staffordshire will join me in taking part in the Lights Out campaign and turn out their lights between 10pm and 11pm on August 4.

"With the busy lives we lead today, the simple act of pausing, switching off the lights and lighting a candle will be a very powerful tribute."

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