Monmouthshire remembers start of Great War

WE WILL REMEMBER THEM: Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, the Monmouthshire Regiment outside the Drill Hall in Chepstow. Picture from the collections of Chepstow Museum. Montage by Martin Wade.

WW1 commemorative service at Chepstow Drill Hall. The last post is played (8953235)

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MONMOUTHSHIRE residents came together this to remember those who served and fought for their country, 100 years on from the start of the First World War.

Commemorative events were held across the county to recognise the devastating impact the First World War had on the county and the country.

In Chepstow, a lights out service was held on Monday evening at St Mary’s church, followed by a service in the Drill Hall yesterday morning, which was to mark the departure of the E Company, the 1st Battalion of the Monmouthshire regiment, for the Western Front 100 years ago.

The town's deputy mayor, Cllr Dale Rooke, said the impact of the war on the town and its people had hit home during the ceremony, which was attended by members of the 1 Rifles, Chepstow Army Cadets and David Davies MP.

He said: “The fact that throughout the service we were flashing pictures on a big screen, it really hit me because you could make out the buildings like the Drill Hall and that these were people from here.”

The lights out service was organised by the town’s Royal British Legion chairman Ken Davies. It was inspired, like others around the country, by a quote from the wartime Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, who said on the eve of the war: "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

Meanwhile, in Abergavenny, the secretary of the town’s Royal British Legion, Ron Oliver, said a ceremony which was held at the town’s cenotaph on Monday evening was better attended than he could have hoped when about 200 people paid their respects to the fallen.

He said: “It was going to be low key but it turned out to be far more than that. We had a full turn out.”

That service was conducted by Father Mark Soady, who served in the Territorial Army for 14 years until 2012.

He said he was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who attended the service and said that it was clear that there “was definitely a desire from people in Abergavenny to pay respects”.

He said: “There was very much a tone of sorrow, of penitence of having to (mark the anniversary).”

Caldicot Library hosted a free community event on Monday. There were readings from staff and local musicians The Banned performed songs that became popular during the conflict.

Resident historian Peter Strong performed MC duties and those attending were encouraged to enter into the communal atmosphere.

The Friends of Caldicot Library have been instrumental in organising this event, the first in a series the library will hold to mark the centenary of the First World War.

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