“Whistle for the Somme” and the Rededication Service of the War Memorial

St. Mary’s Priory Church, Tutbury

Friday 1st July, 2016

Friday, 1st July 2016 will be remembered as one of the special days in the history of The Priory Church of St. Mary, Tutbury.

Whistle for the Somme: The day began for some at 7.15 a.m., a bright warm summer’s morning.   The atmosphere was sombre as we gathered around the newly refurbished War Memorial to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and remember the lads from Tutbury who perished there.   

At 7.30 a.m. the three blasts on the whistle were blown as they did 100 years ago to signal the men to go “over the top” – a very poignant moment.   As we looked out over Tutbury beyond the War Memorial it was hard to imagine what the men thought might be on their horizon.

War Memorial Rededication: Following the 3 blasts on the whistle and a minute’s silence the group dispersed, only to assemble again, this time at 11.00 a.m. in the Church, to continue the commemoration and to rededicate the War Memorial following the completion of the work.   

The Service was one of remembrance and celebration of the lives of those lads who did not return to Tutbury and who are named on the War Memorial, from both world wars.    Jane and Rick Nuth have spearheaded the restoration, together with a committee of dedicated people who have worked so hard to achieve the restoration and to gain a Grade II Listed Building status for the Memorial.    Jane and Rick have written books on the subject and have made contact with many of the families, some of whom joined us at the service.

We would like to thank them for all they have done in making the connections because until now, to us they were names from the War Memorial which we hear read on Remembrance Sunday, now we know more about the men, where they lived, what they did before the Great War etc. etc. they have become more real to us.

We were pleased to welcome The Bishop of Stafford, the Right Reverend Geoff Annas, who with our Vicar Reverend Ian, Reverend Pip acting as Bishop’s Chaplain and various members of the congregation led us through a wonderful service.   Our Organist and Choir led the singing – a huge thank you to all involved.   

During the Service we were led out to the War Memorial with military precision for the Rededication and laying of wreaths and remembrance crosses.    A wreath of laurel was the first to be laid, as it had been at the original Dedication Service in May 1920 (before poppy wreaths were invented). Two further wreaths were laid – one “Somme 100” laid by Joseph Talbot, the great great grandson of Joseph Talbot, who died in the Battle of the Somme. One for the North Staffordshire Regiment was laid by Jeremy Manners, the relative of Lieutenant W Trafford Newton, who died exactly a century ago.  Six “Somme 100” remembrance crosses were laid, commemorating the 6 Tutbury soldiers who perished on 1st July 1916. A family wreath was laid.

After the Service we were treated to a lovely buffet and time to for people to meet and talk.

A very successful day, you must agree and many, many congratulations to all involved.

Joycelyn Hickman

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