Friday, April 18, 2014

Saltburn WWI Centenary Commemoration Day

It was an extraordinary act in the midst of the horrors of war: on Christmas Day, 1914, British and German soldiers on the Western Front put down their guns to play a game of football. Now, to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, Saltburn beach will be transformed into a no-man’s-land on as that infamous match is recreated.

The event, on June 1st will see teams dress up in vintage army uniforms from the era as Saltburn plays its part in remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Event organiser Allan Whiley, who works for Barclays, said: “I really wanted to do something to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One and I wanted the town to play a part in remembering the futility of the conflict.

Last year I started planning to re-enact the Christmas Day truce football match on the beach and on behalf of Saltburn Rotary Club and with the Royal British Legion and other groups, we began to pull ideas together such as the Tiger Moth flyover which will involve dropping 40,000 poppy petals on to the beach.

It's a free event and everyone is welcome to come along and help us mark the anniversary. The public response has been overwhelming so far in terms of support and it continues to grow as we move towards June 1.

We’ve already started selling the poppy crosses at £1 each and we’ve had people from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Poland that have bought them as they remember relatives who were involved in the tragedy of war.”

While the match kicks off at 2pm, there will be plenty going on throughout the day with the event taking place from 10am to 6pm. Bands will play next to the pier and there will be a display of vintage vehicles and re-enactment groups on the lower promenade as well as a replica of a First World War trench. There will also be trade stalls and children's entertainments along the bottom promenade.

A Tiger Moth aircraft will fly over the pitch dropping 40,000 poppy petals and a temporary 'War Cemetery' is planned with a field of 5000 poppy crosses planted in the sand on behalf of the Royal British Legion in tribute to the soldiers who never returned from the battlefield.

There will also be a pop-up exhibition from London’s Imperial War Museum.

Proceeds from the event, to be match funded by Barclays, will go to the East Cleveland branch of the Royal British Legion who will use the funds to restore Saltburn’s War Memorial.

David Willis, for the Saltburn branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “The local branch of the Royal British Legion is proud to be involved.

The Legion will be selling poppy crosses which the public can buy and place in a garden of remembrance on Saltburn beach before they are put on display in a more permanent place.”

When the tide comes in on the day, there will be a short service by a church leader from Saltburn while a bugler plays The Last Post.

In the evening there will be a play set in 1918 and a big band playing in the Community Theatre.

Anyone interested in being involved can contact the organiser Allan Whiley on 07775553049

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