Lives of soldiers to be remembered in Devizes

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: From left, Jeff Matthews, mayor Sarah Bridewell and Alan Thomson at the memorial display                          (PM1196) By Paul Morris From left, Jeff Matthews, mayor Sarah Bridewell and Alan Thomson at the memorial display (PM1196) By Paul Morris

Townspeople in Devizes are being urged to take part in a commemoration event to mark the centenary of the First World War.

The Devizes branch of the Royal British Legion, the town council and Roundway Parish Council will hold a public reading of the names of the 189 men on the town’s war memorial who lost their lives in the Great War.

The idea was suggested by the RBL, which wants townsfolk of all generations to read a selection of the names. Relatives of soldiers listed will be particularly welcomed to read.

Crosses will be placed for each name by schoolchildren, guided by an adult. There will be readings and prayers and Devizes Town Band will be playing. The event is on Sunday, August 24, at noon at the war memorial in Long Street. This is the date of the first battle of the war at Mons.

Devizes mayor Sarah Bridewell said: “In this hundredth year on from what was known as the Great War, and with hindsight on the historical effect of the conflict, we want to hold a respectful and meaningful commemoration by reading the names of those local people who gave their lives to defend their country.

“This is an event for the whole community, especially the younger members, lest the immense sacrifice made should be forgotten.”

Jeff Matthews, president of Devizes RBL and a former TA soldier in 4th Battalion the Wiltshire Regiment, said: “We must remember what our forefathers did. What they went through in the First and Second World Wars was absolutely horrific. Youngsters at school are learning about it and we must keep that going.”

Mr Matthews’s father served in the Second World War and his grandfather in the First World War and both survived.

He said: “A lot of the men who served came back but didn’t talk about their experiences. We must talk for them.”

To get involved, call Simon Fisher at the town hall on (01380) 722160 or email simon fisher@devizes-tc.gov.uk

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