DOZENS of people marched through the streets of Colne this weekend to honour the lives lost in the First World War.
Veterans, cadets, four borough mayors and their consorts, councillors, members of the clergy, people honouring family members they lost in conflicts and others paying their respects followed Accrington Pipe Band from the town’s British Legion to the cenotaph on Saturday.
The parade was just one of more than a dozen events taking place across East Lancashire to mark today’s centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.
Of the nine million men and women who served with the British Armed Forces during the conflict around one million were killed and almost every community was affected.
Of those who did survive, many were badly injured and faced the almost impossible task of returning to everyday life. Many were unable to work and struggled to support their families.
Despite the rain and microphone problems, people commemorating the centenary of the start of the war listened rapt to 13-year-old Edward Cockburn-Price’s reading of wartime poem For The Fallen by Lawrence Binyon.
Following The Lord’s Prayer, families took part in activities that brought to life the reality of the experience of those who went to fight.
At The Gables in the old library, Burnley College student and Pendle Youth Choir member Georgina Parker, 17, inspired men and women to ‘join up’ with her operatic renditions of Rule Britannia and Goodbye-ee (Brother Bertie Went Away).
Implored by Rev Nigel Lister (real-life Colne accountant David Cockburn-Price and Edward’s father) to do theirduty to king and country, teams of giddily nervous participants of all ages pledged to fight for the Empire.
After filling in photocopied versions of Great War recruitment forms in the church building in Keighley Road, groups filed outside, for a grilling from ‘Drill Sergeant Meredith’.
Standing to attention, willing recruits were reprimanded by the fearsome disciplinarian before being marched to Pendle Hippodrome’s no man’s land.
Replete with disorienting flashes, gusts of atmospheric smoke, sandbags, corrugated iron and barbed wire, the set went some way to recreate the sensory experience of the war.
The set, created in two weeks by playhouse volunteers, featured nurses manning the casualty clearing centre – organiser Eleanor Jolly and her two daughters in full character, who soothed ailments of recruits.
Elsewhere, there was a children’s craft tent, an historic photographer’s studio, clog dancing, brass band performances, archive film footage at the Little Theatre, and more.
Chris Hartley, a 40-year-old musician from Dudley Street, Colne, said: “The day was all about paying respects to people who’ve given their lives for the community. For me, it’s about educating my son James, who’s eight.
“Both my grandfathers fought in the Second World War and it’s important to remember.”
Chris’ mum, Ann, said: “The town council has done a really good job of organising the commemoration, it’s brilliant. But I don’t think there's been a good enough turnout today. More people should be out paying their respects.”