Heritage Bell peals for war dead
Under a cold grey sky, smartly at 1050 hours, a lone bell — at least a century-old taonga from from Woodville’s first Catholic Church — rang out 87 times across Woodville’s Fountaine Square, capturing the attention of several hundreds assembled last Sunday.
Its voice, together with threatening skies overhead, painted a dramatic backdrop around those gathered to commemorate signing of the armistice, a treaty to end the first global conflict, the Great War, which was said to signal the end of all wars.
Woodville, like most rural communities of the era, cheerily sent the flower of its youth to serve “at King George V’s pleasure” into what was to become one of history’s worstever charnel houses.
Although the village cenotaph pays tribute to 81 fallen soldiers, a Woodville’s RSA researcher’s efforts unearthed a further six unrecorded companions, so the day’s service highlighted the sacrifice of 87 men.
The extent of this loss was made especially poignant through an installed field of poppies, a three-dimensional emblem of Flanders fields, made for the day by pupils of nearby Kumeroa and Papatawa Schools. Eighty-seven pigeons were released that hopefully returned home safely to Ashhurst.
Neat arrays of real poppies, grown for the occasion, added further colour to the field.
The event, MCd by Jim Worboys of Woodville RSA and service of commemoration by Vicar Rosie McMillan, was supported by a polished, high quality presentation from 2 Workshop Coy, Linton Military Camp, led by CSM Andrew McDougal.
A two-minute silence was observed sharp on 11am, and wreaths were laid on the cenotaph in a manner reflecting the solemnity of the moment.
Everyone at the service was moved by the atmosphere around the square, testifying to huge efforts contributed by many local folk in the months leading up to the commemoration.
Organised by Woodville RSA, together with the Anglican Church and Woodville Districts Vision, the service concluded with refreshments for the village’s senior citizens, army and guests in the Stadium Hall.
RSA Researcher Bryan D James presented his book commemorating the service history of all Woodville’s fallen sons to CSM McDougal.
Copies of the book were also gifted to Woodville Library and the National Archive.
Eighty-seven recycled art poppies made by Kumeroa and Papatawa school students depict Flanders fields in Fountaine Square, each one commemorating a fallen son of Woodville.
CSM Andrew McDougal leads 2Workshop Coy on to Woodville's Fountaine Square.
Part of the crowd assembled at Fountaine Square to commemorate Armistice Day in Woodville.
CSM Andrew McDougal, 2 Workshop Coy, Linton MC receiving a presentation copy of Bryan James' book detailing all eighty-seven fallen World War I servicemen, from Ian Daly, President Woodville RSA.