A light to remember those who suffered in the darkness of the First World War
- Credit: Nick Butcher
They suffered immeasurably and served with immense bravery to bring us out of the darkness of a global conflict.
Now, a specially commissioned Lamplight of Peace will commemorate the sacrifice of First World War tunnellers and the millions of soldiers, sailors and merchant seamen that lost their lives during the war.
The lamplight will be lit at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey on Saturday - the first of the last 100 days before Remembrance Sunday on November 11.
For those 100 days, the lamplight will be shared across four military charities - The Royal Naval Association, ABF The Soldiers Charity, RAF Benevolent Fund and the Merchant Navy Association - before returning to the abbey on Remembrance Sunday, where its flame will be used to light a Beacon of Light.
The Lamplight of Peace is part of Battle’s Over – A Nation’s Tribute, which Gorleston pageantmaster, Bruno Peek, has been organising for the past four years as part of centenary celebrations of the end of the war.
The focal point of the lamplight is a Bonnetted Clanny lamp, that would have been used by miners in British coalfields and subsequently in the tunnels.
Its wooden base displays strands from German and British barbed wire of the period, coal from the last British major coal mine, shards of trench post and soil from a trench near Ypres, ballast from the railway line where the Armistice was signed in Compiegne and a replica of a Victoria Cross.
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Mr Peek said: “The tunnellers are some of the great unsung heroes of the First World War. They fought their war underground, constantly surrounded by darkness and danger as they dug explosive-packed tunnels beneath enemy lines. Their extraordinary bravery has largely been forgotten but I hope that this event will serve to shed some light on the work they undertook in unimaginable conditions.”
Many of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war were from Norfolk, including those who enlisted from the King’s Sandringham Estate and never returned - known as the Vanished Battalion or the Lost Sandringhams.
On Remembrance Sunday at 7.05pm, more than 1,000 churches and cathedrals will ‘ring out for peace’, including 50 from Norfolk - more than any other area.