Three ‘Silent Soldiers’ have been unveiled in Cheshire East as part of this year’s programme of events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
The near life-size silhouettes of a ‘Tommy’ have been sponsored by Cheshire East Council in support of a national campaign by The Royal British Legion.
They stand as a tribute to those who did not return home from the conflict, which lasted from 1914-1918.
Their unveiling in Crewe town centre today by guests including Cheshire East mayor-elect Lesley Smetham, Cheshire East Council cabinet members, Royal British Legion members and creative producer Amber Knipe, marked the launch of the fourth and final year of the Cheshire East Reflects programme, which will culminate in November with two events called ‘When the Light Goes Out’.
Over the coming months, the Silent Soldiers will be used across the borough to promote the commemorative activities.
Councillor Rachel Bailey, leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “We’re really proud to be one of the only councils in the UK to have held a sustained programme of commemorative events throughout the four-year period, remembering those who gave their lives.
“The work that has been done, along with the activities planned for this year, will help ensure that the stories and artefacts, which tell the story of the First World War in Cheshire East, are preserved for future generations.”
The Cheshire East Reflects programme has seen participation from residents, community groups and arts organisations, as well as partners including the Imperial War Museum North. More than 25,000 people have attended events, participated in the programme or received a free schools workshop.
Over the coming months there will be further opportunities for the public to get involved, including taking part in a parade and helping with the making and sourcing of props, costumes, flags and banners.
The 2018 programme includes a free family concert at Tatton Park, Knutsford, on Sunday 26 August. Visitors are invited to take along a picnic to the event, which will feature the Staffordshire Military Wives Choir, Cheshire’s own Foden’s Band and Sacred Sounds, which tells the story of British India’s involvement in the First World War.
The final commemoration events, called ‘When the Light Goes Out’, will take place during Armistice weekend in November and will also be free to attend.
The first will be held in Crewe town centre on Saturday 10 November and will focus on the survivors of the war. It will include a parade inspired by Crewe’s 1918 Tank Week – part of a fund-raising campaign led by the government, which saw tanks touring England’s towns and cities – and a street concert featuring music from bands and choirs from across Cheshire East.
The second event will take place on Sunday 11 November, at Tatton Park, and will be based on the theme of ‘the fallen’. It will feature a piece of projection work created and inspired by archive and community sourced footage and stories about the war, a promenade performance and a performance of a newly-commissioned choral piece.
During a formal ceremony to mark the end of the First World War, a commemorative flame, which has been burning at Tatton Park since 2014, will be extinguished.
Cllr Bailey said: “Cheshire East Reflects has been a thought-provoking programme of work that has paid tribute to the tremendous courage and sacrifice of Cheshire’s soldiers.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the programme of activities so far and encourage residents to attend the events later this year as the centenary commemorations draw to a close.”