Centenary of the Armistice Commemorations at Hemblington and Blofield Heath

The centenary of the Armistice, which marked the ending of the First World War, has encouraged many churches and other groups to commemorate those who fought, and many of whom died, during the 1914-1918 war. It also inspired the congregation at All Saints Church, Hemblington, to fund-raise to amend the war memorial inside the church, as the surname of one combatant had been wrongly spelt when it was first commissioned.

Private James Browne, who died in The Battle of The Somme in 1916, had had the final “e” of his name omitted. It was therefore decided, with the wholehearted support of the family who still live locally, to ask local stonemasons to add the missing “e”. This has been done, and the memorial will be rededicated by the rector, Rev’d Kevin Billson, at the Service of Remembrance at 9.30 a.m. on Sunday, 11th November.

Commemorating the Armistice anniversary has also involved an exhibition about the local parishioners who died during the Great War. This, together with a display about The Battle of The Somme, various poignant photographs and a “handling box” containing uniform, tools, a gas mask and other items worn or carried by soldiers, had been lent by the Learning and Events team of The Forum Trust and was on display during the Heritage Open Days in September. The congregation also purchased one of the “There but not there” translucent figures, which hauntingly reminds visitors of the sacrifice of so many in those dark days.

To help house the displays, a tent was erected in the churchyard. The funds for this had been awarded to The Friends of All Saints Church by Norfolk Community Foundation and the Norfolk World War One Fund. The tent is also used for other events, usually as shelter from the rain, but this summer more as a sunshade!

To mark the actual Armistice Day, which this year falls on a Sunday, and as part of a world-wide initiative, a member of the congregation, Rory Marsden, will be piping “When the Battle’s O’er” at church at 6.00 a.m. This will be followed by a light breakfast. Those who would like to join the congregation for this, and for the Remembrance and rededication Service at 9.30 a.m., will be warmly welcomed.

That afternoon local residents of Blofield Heath and Hemblington will continue the commemoration at Heathlands Community Centre (Woodbastwick Road, Blofield Heath) when family memories will be retold, poems read, and afternoon tea served. This will start at 2.30 p.m.

At 6.55 p.m. at Heathlands “The Last Post” will be sounded and then at 7.00 p.m. a beacon will be lit, as part of “Battle’s Over” – a national tribute, as the beacons symbolise the ‘light of hope’ that emerged from the darkness of war. All local residents are invited to join in with this moving commemoration.

Full details of all commemorative events that day are on the church’s website:

www.hemblingtonchurch.org.uk