Festival of Remembrance to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War

  • Post published:4th September 2014
  • Post Category:Local News

People are being urged to take part in this year’s Wolverhampton Festival of Remembrance – and mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

 The city is hosting its annual Festival of Remembrance at the Wulfrun Hall on Sunday November 2, 2014.

 Young and old across the generations are being urged to take part in the event, which is supported by The Royal British Legion, ex-services organisations and Help for Heroes.

An afternoon of music and remembrance will see performances from Britain’s Got Talent star Jean Martyn, Wolverhampton Youth Wind Orchestra Brass Ensemble, soloists Tony O’Rourke and Abigail Strudwick, members of Wolverhampton Musical Comedy Company and The Compton Hospice Choir.

Directed by Jeremy Hobbs, the event will start with the ceremonial parade of Standards and the presentation of the Torch of Remembrance.

It will then feature rousing music from the past 100 years and closes with a peace and reconciliation service, the Last Post and a spectacular poppy drop.  


 Councillor Linda Leach, chair of the Wolverhampton Festival of Remembrance working committee, said: “This year our focus will be on remembering the outbreak of the First World War and those who served and who made the ultimate sacrifice.

 “We want to see people from across the generations take part and remember those from our city who fought for our country. We have some wonderful local musicians taking part and a programme that includes music from the last 100 years as well as a Service of Remembrance. 

“We hope families will bring their children and encourage them to learn about the past, meet veterans from the Second World War and remember those who fell.”

Among Wolverhampton’s wonderful war veterans helping promote the Festival of Remembrance are Joe Davies, 92, a Normandy D-Day veteran and President of the Wolverhampton and District branch of the Parachute Regimental Association, Arthur Thomas, 92, of the 18th Air Formation Signals, Wren Joyce Jarman, 91, and 95-year-old Brian Fellows, who served with the Royal Artillery and is president of the Wolverhampton branch of the Royal British Legion.

 Mr Davies said: “The Festival of Remembrance is so important and involving young people is what we want.

 “I landed on Gold Beach in the D-Day landings and eventually ended up in Hamburg. I went back for the first time this year for the 70th anniversary and it was a wonderfully warm welcome from the people of France, Holland and Belgium which we helped liberate. I was privileged to lay a wreath for all those we lost.

 “What still amazes me to this day was the incredible planning that went into the D-Day landings; it was an operation like no other and how it was all worked out was staggering.”

  Mr Davies was 21 when he landed on Gold Beach in Arromanches with the 12th Royal Army Service Corps. It was his job to prepare military vehicles for battle – including making sure they were fully ready for the water. He said: “The biggest job for us was preparation, because all the vehicles had to be waterproofed.

 “It was important that they were tested and tested and tested for weeks before we went, as if we had not done the sufficient waterproofing they could have submerged.”

 After weeks of preparation in Kent Mr Davies, from Compton, then left from London and headed across the Channel on a boat with a 1930s-built Thornycroft Lorry from Tilbury Docks.

 And for 95-year-old Brian Fellows, from Newbridge, the D-Day landings meant he had to leave his new bride and join fellow soldiers in the Royal Artillery as they made their way across Europe a few weeks later.

 He said: “I took my tank through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany. We were either fighting the Germans as we made our way through, or being cheered by people so happy to be liberated.

 “We were on our way to Bremen when we got the news that the war was over and Germany had surrendered but it was another 18 months before I got back home to my new bride.

 “People often ask me why don’t I go back especially as this was the 70th anniversary but I always say I went once and that was enough.”

 Back in Britain Wren Joyce Jarman spent three years based in Plymouth, London and Somerset working in the stores making sure the services were well equipped with everything from boots to blankets.

 She said: “I met my late husband during the war – he was a chief petty officer. It is so very important that we never forget those who fought and played a part in it.”

 Arthur Thomas, 92, from Tettenhall, was based at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), at Bushey Park, London where his skills as a teleprinter operator played a vital role in the war.

 The quartet are among many veterans and ex-servicemen and women who will take part in the Festival of Remembrance.    

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 Doors open at 1pm and the event begins at 2pm. Tickets are on sale now priced £5 each and are available from the Civic Hall Box Office on 0870 320 7000 or can be purchased on the day, subject to availability. 


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