Festival of Remembrance honours those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War at Preston's Guild Hall

'The clock is striking, the last shot has been fired, and the war is over.'

Saturday, 10th November 2018, 12:13 pm
Updated Monday, 12th November 2018, 8:50 pm
The Armed Forces Muster

The announcement in Preston's Market Square by mayor Harry Cartmell was met with thunderous cheers and church bells.

It was 100 years ago - November 11, 1918.

That day and the lives that were lost, injured and left behind after the First World War were very much on the minds of an audience at the Guild Hall on Friday night as poppy petals fell, fluttering from the ceiling as a Festival of Remembrance drew to a close.

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The Armed Forces Muster

The evening had begun with silhouettes of soldiers, an installation to those who fell in the First World War, being seated among the audience for "all those who we remember who gave their lives saving this country".

A fanfare trumpeted announcing visiting dignities into the auditorium from across Lancashire.

"The North West supplies the nation's armed forces with 20 per cent of its recruits," one compere said.

Another allowed an opportunity for contemplation, "to give thanks for all those who served their country in times of war and peace - for those who were injured and those who were left behind" and called for a moment "for bereaved families".

City of Preston Pipes and Drums

In the silence, Sea Cadets began a synchronized routine on rigging to Run by Snow Patrol. The humble choreography performed by the young people was moving with somersaults weaving in and out of the rigging.

In the second part of their performance dozens of youngsters in navy blue ran on to perform drill exercises to Ed Sheeran's Photograph.

Their youth was reminiscent of the young men - or boys - who signed up to serve in the First World War. The repetitive movements allowed audience members to drift into contemplation, listening to the lyrics of the song which seemed to take on a new meaning in the light of Armistice.

"We keep this love in a photograph,

Fanfare - arrival of dignities

"We made these memories for ourselves,

"Where our eyes are never closing,

"Hearts are never broken,

"And time's forever frozen still."

The Armed Forces Muster

The lights dipped as musicians from the Drums of The First Battalion Duke of Lancaster's Regiment marched into the stage floor, invoking a medley of familiar wartime songs including When the Saints Go Marching In.

Resplendent in their red coats, and black trousers with their single red stripes, they played tin whistles and drummed with luminous red and green drumsticks performing in perfect timing, lifting their drumsticks to their noses at each beat, faster and faster, like clockwork dolls.

Footage on a screen showed men running through trenches as The King's Division band struck up a haunting piece of music.

Members of Stoneyhurst Combined Cadet Force read of men who had achieved the Victoria Cross - the highest accolade members of the British Armed Forces can be awarded for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy".

The Sentry, a poem by Wilfred Owen, read: "Those other wretches, how they bled and spewed,

"And one who would have drowned himself for good, --

Soloist Louisa Stirland

"I try not to remember these things now.

"Let dread hark back for one word only: how

"Half-listening to that sentry's moans and jumps,

"And the wild chattering of his broken teeth."

The stunning voice of a soloist, soprano Louisa Stirland, broke into the atmosphere, lifting it.

Later the City of Preston Pipes and Drums made a grand entrance in kilts and bearskin hats. Pipe bands, with their emotionally stirring and haunting sounds, were often used to "rally the troops" a compere said.

In a more sombre tone, The Air Cadet Barber's Shop Quintet sang of the British grim commitment to keeping a stiff upper lip with, It's a Long Way To Tipperary, Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile and Keep the Home Fires Burning.

To round off the evening, representatives of the armed forces from Lancashire gathered in the auditorium for a muster and in an act of remembrance a Bible passage from the book of Revelation was read.

"Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

Padre Paul van Sittert, chaplain of the Second Battalion of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment prayed: "Kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all, the true love of peace and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love."

The auditorium stood in silence after a bugler played The Last Post.

There But Not There soldiers are seated in the auditorium