South Holland fell silent as children, parents, grandparents and veterans paid their respects to soldiers from the area who made the ultimate sacrifice for mankind.
Spalding, Pinchbeck and Gosberton all held commemoration events on Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of World War I’s most horrific event – the Battle of the Somme – in which around 420,000 British soldiers died over a five-month period.
The day started with a service of commemoration at Ayscoughfee Gardens, Spalding, led by the Rev John Bennett which included prayers, sound effects similar to those from the Great War and a reading by Year 10 student Dilara Greene of Spalding High School.
In an extract from the diary of Private William Roberts, 18th Durham Light Infantry, Dilara said: “The short but terrible rush through the fierce curtain fire with men falling on all sides, I shall never forget.”
Mr Bennett said: “It was heartening to see so many people coming at 7.30am in the morning to make this commemoration on Friday.
“There were many profoundly moving moments, but the one that more people have mentioned than any other was the sight of girls from Spalding High School laying 29 simple wooden crosses on the ground – one for every soldier from Spalding killed in the battle - forming a single large cross on the grass in front of the memorial.
“We remembered and we shuddered at the terrible horror of that day and of the weeks of slaughter that followed 100 years ago.”
Stephen Jones, head of history at Spalding High School, said: “I would like to thank Rev Bennett and (Spalding and District) Royal British Legion for organising such an important ceremony of remembrance.
“I would also like to praise the dedication of our students in giving their time in order to attend the ceremony and remember the sacrifices made by a generation of young men from our region and beyond.
“As this event passes beyond living memory, it is all the more vital that as a community we continue to show our respect and remember the sacrifices made;, particularly our young students.
As this event passes beyond living memory, it is all the more vital that as a community we continue to show our respect and remember the sacrifices made,; particularly our young studentsStephen Jones, head of history at Spalding High School
“The students who attended the ceremony have commented on how poignant they found it and have already been inspired to find out more about the Battle of the Somme.
“I would also like to say how proud I was of Dilara’s reading which was most evocative, providing some sense of the emotion that soldiers may have felt on that day.”
Spalding town centre manager Dennis Hannant said: “I was really happy to see some young children there and they clearly knew what it was about which was very important for me.
“My generation won’t be here forever and we need young children to come after us to make sure The Battle of the Somme doesn’t happen again.”
Meanwhile, children from Pinchbeck East Primary School read out the names of villagers who fell at the Somme during a ceremony at Pinchbeck’s War Memorial.
Finally, bellringers from St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Gosberton, sounded a three-hour peal for villager Private George Marshall and Sergeant Joe York-Bishop of Kirton.