It was a fitting tribute to the fallen of the Great War that Christleton saw the largest attendance at a Remembrance Service for many years. Glorious autumn sunshine shone on the Parade as it wound its way though the village to join parishioners waiting at the Lych Gate and around the War Memorial. Our new Rector, Revd. Dr Stefan Collier had changed the order of service this year to enable the Remembrance to take place at 11.00am at the War Memorial to join tens of thousands of others at Memorial Services throughout the Country and the World. The names of the fallen were read out by four young people from the Parish, Jessica Mills, Osian Williams, Caroline Holland and Daniel Brown. All fifty one men were named together with the street where they lived. This was a very poignant reminder that they were ordinary young men from within our own parish, from Pepper Street to Roadside, Birch Heath and Stamford Lane, Rowton and Littleton, Cotton Abbotts and Guilden Sutton. Some had even come back to fight for their homeland from Canada, America and New Zealand, and almost all were fighting in Army Regiments with just two in the embryo Royal Air Force. After the names of the fallen from WWII were read out we had the exhortation and prayers, the flags were lowered and the last post sounded. The village remained silent for those two minutes, and I’m sure many present were thinking at that moment of those brave young men who lie in graves in foreign lands, far from the small Cheshire village that they knew.
The congregation and uniformed organisations were then led into the church by the Rector, and followed by the standard bearers of the Royal British Legion, Guides, Scouts, Brownies, Rainbows and Cubs. At this stage there was standing room only in the church with every possible seat taken.
The church building was resplendent with floral and poppy decorations provided by Olive Hammond and her team, with welcome additional support this year from Material Girls led by Ann Barclay. The poppy theme was expanded with hundreds of knitted poppies around the church, and the outside of the pulpit was covered with camouflage netting, decorated with fifty one poppies to represent the fallen of WWI on this very special anniversary. During the service the hymns Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the King of Creation, Lord of all Hopefulness & I vow to thee my Country were sung.
The Rector’s address told the powerful and courageous story of Nurse Edith Cavell, a British Nurse who is celebrated for saving soldiers on both sides without discrimination, and also helping 200 Allied soldiers escape from German occupied Belgium during WWI. She was arrested, accused of treason, found guilty by court-martial and sentenced to death.
Despite international pressure for mercy, she was shot by German Firing squad on the 12th October 1915 aged 49years.
After the final hymn the standards were returned to the holders in the nave. An act of Commitment took place followed by the singing of the National Anthem. After the blessing the congregation left the church following a moving and memorable service in Commemoration of the Centenary of the Great War 1914-18. The thoughts of everyone were with those 51 brave men who gave the supreme sacrifice for their country and village community. We will remember them.
A retiring collection was held for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.
Village War Memorial
In Memory of Soldiers of Christleton
Lest we forget
The Centenary of the end of World War One at 11.00am on the 11th November 2018 was a significant event in the history of the Parish of Christleton. I was very proud to have led the team of researchers from the Christleton Local History Group, and students from the History Department at Christleton High School over the past four years. During our long search for evidence we found another twelve names of men who should have been recorded on the War Memorial, together with at least another fifty names to be added to the Roll of Honour. Why these names were omitted we shall never know, perhaps it was a failure of communication, or families were too distraught and didn’t want names recorded. This is rather a difficult theory, but there are hundreds of examples we’ve heard of where men didn’t talk about their experiences, as the sights they had seen were so horrific. Their life on the continent of Europe started off almost in a holiday like mood, but soon changed to horror as the grim events unfolded. Places like the Somme, Gallipoli, Ypres, Passchendaele, Beaumont Hamel, Cambrai, Thiepval, Ancre, Loos etc became known all too often in the village as the stories of victims unfolded. The older men, women and school children all had a part to play but the key figure in the village was the Rector, Revd, GMV Hickey. He undoubtedly would have bourne the hard task of visiting the homes of all those affected, the prisoners of war, the injured and the dead.
He conducted the funerals or Memorial services for all those village families, many of which are recorded in the local newspapers or the Parish Magazines. These were a magnificent source for us, and also enabled us to delve deeper into village life than had been possible before. It was a great find when we came across bound volumes for the years 1911-1921 in the County Archives, and very poignant that they were collected by Mrs Garnett the wife of the late Rector, Canon Lionel Garnett who lost her two sons Claude in December 1915 aged 31 at Kut in Iraq, and Lawrence in June 1917 age 25 years at Brandhoek near Ypres.
The Christleton Great War Stories Project has now come to an end, but new information continues to arrive from time to time, and I’ll write more fully about some exciting news next month.
If anyone would like a copy of our Christleton Great War Stories book please let me know.
In Flanders fields
The fighsing stopped
It's a long way to Tipperary
God Bless Home
1914 - 1918 War
Pass the time
Wish me luck
Forget me not
We Need You
Vase of Poppies
Material Girls 2018
Material Girls at the Methodist Chapel
Christleton Great War Stories
A very special evening of Commemoration to mark the Centenary of the end of World War I was held in the main Hall of Christleton High School on Saturday 10th November 2018. This joint event was organised by Headteacher Damien Stenhouse, staff and students from the High School, and members of the Christleton Local History group led by Chairman David Cummings.
Guests were accompanied to their seats by students from the School’s Air Cadet Force, and welcomed by Damien Stenhouse & David Cummings. A powerful film sequence from the Christleton Great War Stories Project was shown where students spoke about their attitude to war, having studied it in history lessons and made memorable visits to several battlefields in Europe. David then talked about the Great War Stories project illustrating it with some of the material acquired during the past four years of research. This was followed by stories of some of the Men and Women from the Village during the Great War read by students who had taken part in twelve one minute segments on Dee Radio’s story time earlier in the year. The stories of survivors Percy and Amy Dobie, Basil Dixon Bate and Robert Andrew Scott Macfie, were unfortunately lost by a technical hitch on the computer system, but more than made up for by a very moving drama written and acted by students from the High Schools Stolen Lives Project directed by Kate de Winton. Most of the audience were moved to tears at the end of this poignant performance.
After the interval Simon Phillips, Musical Director at CHS, Alf Croston and David Cummings led the audience in singing four songs from the WWI era; Pack up your troubles, It’s a long way to Tipperary, Roses of Picardy and Keep the home fires burning. This segment was followed by a Parade of Standards led by the Christleton High School Cadet Force with their standard, the Union Flag and the British Legion standard. A floral tribute of fresh roses was carried to the table by Jessica Mills and Osian Williams, followed by prayers led by The Rector, Revd. Dr Stefan Collier, Mr Geoff Lawson ex Head of Christleton High School, and Mrs Val Mountcastle on behalf of the Christleton Methodist Chapel.
The hymn “I vow to Thee my Country” was sung, and the Roll Call of the fallen read by Jessica Mills, Osian Williams, Caroline Holland and Daniel Brown four young members of the community representing the High School and St James’ Crew Youth Club. The exhortation was read by Headteacher Mr Damien Stenhouse followed by the last post.
This memorable tribute to the fallen of the village in the 1914-18 War had come to a close, and a retiring collection raised the magnificent sum £500 to be shared by the Royal British Legion and Help the Heroes.