Silent remembrance commemorates outbreak of World War I

(Photo: Keith Blundy)
The Bishop of Jarrow, centre, blesses the newly refurbished memorial and gardens

It is a century ago to the day since the outbreak of World War I, a war that would go on to claim the lives of 16 million people.

Churches across Britain were remembering the occasion in their services on Sunday and in Washington Village, the Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant, blessed a newly refurbished memorial garden and monument.

Members of the community, including serving armed forces personnel, came together to mark the anniversary by laying poppies, crosses and wreaths.

The anniversary coincides with another outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas that has killed over 1,800 people since July 8.

Bishop Bryant said both events were a cause for silent reflection.

"The original idea of commemoration was of course to remember the terrible things that had happened, so that we wouldn't do them again," he said.

"Now sadly we haven't done that very well as the events of the last week have shown only too clearly. What I have been saying this morning is that in the face of such appalling tragedy, all we can do really is to hold respectful and thoughtful silence.

"We are not very good at that these days, if ever anything goes wrong, everybody feels the need to say something, and I think there are times when the only sensible and respectful thing to do is to keep silence, silence in the face of tragedy, silence in the face of heroism, silence as we try to work out what we can do to build a better future."

(Photo: Keith Blundy)
Parade master Richard Bell, James Hurst and Bob Douglas honour the fallen

Among those taking part in the blessing was Bob Douglas, a 89-year-old veteran of World War II, who fought with the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and arrived in Normandy nine days after the D-Day landings.

He was joined in paying tribute at the memorial by 7-year-old James Hurst.

"Then, as today, we were doing our bit for the youth of the future and it was a privilege to stand alongside young James at this rededication and on the eve of the WW1 centenary of the outbreak of war," said Douglas.

"The bishop talked about the events of the last week in the Middle East. I remember standing at a port in France when the war in Europe had ended and was waiting to board a ship to go to fight in the Far East, when news came of the dropping of the atomic bombs in Japan.

"Instead I was sent to Palestine, and spent the next two years there - things don't seem to have changed much. It's really important to remember and to hope for a peaceful future."

The Bishop of Jarrow also attended a service of commemoration at St Herbert's in Darlington during which a brass with the names of fifteen local men – including one aged only sixteen - gave their lives in the First World War.

What Others Are Reading
More News in Church