Firstly, thank you to everyone who supported the Battle’s Over event on Remembrance Sunday. The turnout was fantastic, with over 100 people attending. The most gratifying was to see some younger faces in the crowd, so thank you for being interested enough in the history of Appledore to come along.
As you may know, preparations took a whole year and behind the scenes a great deal of work was done to ensure the evening went off without a hitch. Even the weather was kind to us in the end and a very rainy weekend turned out mild and dry for the commemoration service – for which we were all grateful.
The folks involved in any way to prepare and manage the event know who they are and a very grateful and heartfelt thanks is extended to you all.
The weekend began with the showing of Warhorse in the Village Hall on Saturday evening, which was well attended. The film of course produced a few tears, happy and sad, but is evocative of the terrible loss created by the Great War, both in human and animal lives.
A rainy Sunday morning cleared and the main service at the Cenotaph in London went off without a hitch and the march past by 10,000 civilians as well as military, was a true beginning to what became a wonderful day of commemoration.
The Appledore Tommie silhouettes remained standing and by 6:00 pm people had begun to arrive at The Village Hall. As more and more entered it became clear that the event had resonated with villagers and they had braved a damp and dismal evening to attend. Following a brief introduction a wreath laying service was taken by The Revd Keith Fazzani, Chaplain to the Queen’s Own Buffs Regimental Association, with wreaths laid by by Councillor Michael Hill (Ashford BC), Mr James Perkins (Chair Appledore PC) and Mr Brian Knight (Chair Appledore Local History Society). The assembled group then walked to the Appledore Recreation Ground to follow the prescribed Battle’s Over ceremony, including prayers (Revd Fazzani), poems (Tracy Morgan and Huw Jenkins), reading of the names of the Appledore dead (Brian Knight), Last Post (Matthew Poore), one minute silence, Reveille (Matthew Poore) and the very first Appledore Beacon lighting (Cllr Mick Burgess).
The venue for the service was chosen as the best place to view the beacon mounted on Mill Hill in Kenardington Road.
To commemorate each and every soul lost during WW1 from the Village, Beverley Gray (herself a talented clay potter), had made personalised plaques for each.
In the morning they were displayed within the Vestry of St Peter & St Paul’s Church, along with wonderful clay poppies* that Beverley Gray had also made. These plaques will now be transferred to the Appledore Beacon and mounted on the Oak Post to serve as a reminder of the lost lads of Appledore.
During the afternoon, volunteers loaded the beacon basket in readiness and (luckily) the wood had been kept perfectly dry! Whilst villagers were making their way to the viewing point, a team from Appledore, ably assisted by the Northiam Bonfire Society, were working at the beacon and getting everything ready.
As indicated above, Ashford Borough Councillor Mick Burgess had agreed to light the beacon for the village, once the designated time had arrived, which proved to be a spectacular sight, from both the beacon site and the viewing area.
After the service and at 7:05 precisely, the Church Bells rang out and the procession having made its way back to the Village Hall for warming refreshments, viewed the many exhibits in the hall.
The first WW1 commemoration of 2018 in Appledore, the WW1 Heritage Trail leaflets produced under the 100 Miles of 100 Years project, were also displayed.
The Art Club showed a wonderful display of poppy pictures, the Appledore Local History Society had displays of WW1 memorabilia.
The Royal British Legion were there with a fantastic display of promotional items that support the work they do and the Hall was decorated wonderfully as a backdrop for the evening.
Refreshments and some wonderful hearty soup was served, along with a other tasty treats, such as pastries, cakes and sausage rolls.
The evening was hailed a complete success and thanks given to everyone who had worked so hard to make it so.
Appledore now has a beacon of its own, for lighting whenever we have occasion to and it is hoped that enough interest will be shown for a permanent war memorial to be raised in memory of the lost and fallen from all conflicts, from the Zulu Wars to the present day.
*Mrs Gray has donated these poppies for purchase to support donations. If anyone is interested in owning one, please contact us here.