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Moving service in Stretton marked 100 years since the start of First World War

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 06, 2014

  • LIGHTS OUT . . . left, Burton's war memorial and below, historian Malcolm Goode with Rev Kim Thomas and James Pickering.

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AS the clock struck 10pm on Monday, people gathered in St Mary's Church in Stretton to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War.

A hush descended over the pews as the Reverend Kim Thomas rose to begin the service, which would run for one hour, until the time was matched when war was officially announced in 1914.

"There will be plenty of time for reflection and contemplation throughout the service," Rev Thomas said at the start – and that was something which made the service so poignant.

Beginning with the hymn I Vow to Thee My Country, there was then a pause, which allowed the congregation to consider the words they had just been singing.

Information from newsreels were read out throughout the service, taking people from June 28 on the path to Britain declaring it was at war with Germany.

A candle was lit after each bulletin and extinguished as the night went on.

In an effective final moment the last candle was extinguished by a young scout, who read out the immortal words of the then foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey, who said: "The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time."

The church was plunged into darkness as vocalist Andy Last gave a moving rendition of 'Only Remembered for What We Have Done'.

This poignant song, which followed poems and readings about the fervour of young men heading to war, was a spine-tingling reminder – for me at least – that each and every one of the millions who went to their deaths in the conflict was a person – somebody's son, or brother, or sweetheart – yet now they are simply part of 'the fallen'.

St Mary's was almost silent as people filed out of the building and into the churchyard.

Traffic moving in the streets of Stretton that while we remember, life goes on thanks to the sacrifice these men made 100 years ago.

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