‘A tribute led by people ...not by governments’
ORGANISER OF ‘WHEN THE BATTLE’S OVER’ EVENTS OUTLINES HIS GRASSROOTS VISION FOR ARMISTICE DAY COMMEMORATION
PIPERS will play, beacons will be lit and church bells will ring in all corners of the UK and around the world as communities pay tribute to the First World War fallen 100 years after the conflict ended.
Battle’s Over, described as a nation’s tribute, has been in the planning for four years and will see hundreds of locally-organised events mark the centenary of the Armistice on November 11.
Pageant master Bruno Peek, 67, has co-ordinated the events and says they take their name from the tune that was traditionally played on pipes by the Scottish regiments at the end of a battle, called When The Battle’s Over.
More than 1,300 pipers around the world will play the tune at 6am on the day, from village greens and in high streets, to a lone piper in front of the Tomb Of The Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey in London. The music will also play in New Zealand and Mr Peek says there will be a “swathe of sound across the world”.
The Remembrance Sunday events will be followed in the evening by another emotional musical tribute when more than 1,000 buglers play The Last Post at individual First World War beacon sites. The beacons will be lit at 7pm to signify the light that came out of the darkness of war.
More than 140 town criers will then undertake A Cry For Peace Around The World, and more than 1,000 churches will ring their bells as a finale to the day.
Former welder Mr Peek says: “It’s going to pay tribute to the millions who either died or returned home dreadfully wounded during or after the war finished on November 11, 1918.
“I wanted to put together an international project that was led by the people of the world, not by governments or organisations but real community-based commemorations.’’
Mr Peek says he has worked with town and parish councils and organisations around the world, sending emails from his home in Gorleston-on-Sea near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, to bring his vision for a tribute to life. “It’s been a long process, but I feel so privileged to be working with so many people who want to pay tribute to those who gave so much so that we enjoy the freedom of speech and movement we have today,’’ he says. The Cry For Peace event takes place at 7.05pm when a Pageant master Bruno Peek 1,000 individual pipers around the world start the day’s commemorations with the traditional Scottish lament played at the end of battle – Battle’s O’er. 1,000 individual buglers sound this historic tribute at WW1 Beacons of Light locations across the nation and UK overseas territories. Over 1,000 Beacons of Light symbolising an end to the darkness of war and a return to the light of peace are lit. 1,000 cathedrals and churches will ring out their bells in celebration of peace. 100 Town Criers throughout the United Kingdom and other countries around the world join together in an International Cry for Peace Around the World. Chelsea Pensioner from the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, will lead 100 town criers in a call for international peace around the world. In Ypres in Belgium, where five battles were fought, four town criers will undertake the cry together in the market square in French, German, Dutch and English.
Battle’s Over also features special tributes to two groups of unsung heroes – The Chinese Labour Corps – who dug trenches, repaired tanks, laid roads and tracks, transported supplies and assembled shells to free up British soldiers for the front line– and the World War One Tunnellers.
The work of the Tunnellers has been acknowledged in a Lamplight of Peace, commissioned by Mr Peek and lit at a special service at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, Westminster Abbey, London, on August 4 this year. It sheds light on a special breed of men who fought on the Western Front, digging tunnels and laying explosives beneath German lines.
The Lamp is currently being kept alight by the event’s four official charities – Royal Naval Association, ABF The Soldiers Charity, Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the Merchant Navy Association, before being returned to the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, Westminster Abbey for 6am on November 11.
More than 76,000 statues depicting ‘Tommies’ and ‘Doughboys’ have already been sold to be displayed during the Armistice commemorations, like this one at the White Cliffs of Dover and at St Augustine’s Church, Swindon, pictured left