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Gallery: Moving St Edmundsbury Cathedral service to commemorate the start of the First World War

18:34 03 August 2014

A service of Choral Evensong and commemoration of the Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury. The Lord-Lieutenant, Lord Tollemache.

A service of Choral Evensong and commemoration of the Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury. The Lord-Lieutenant, Lord Tollemache.

Archant

Civic, military and judicial representatives from across Suffolk paid homage to our fallen First World War soldiers during a special service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral yesterday.

The cathedral was full for the moving service of choral evensong and commemoration of the outbreak of the Great War. Among those in attendance were The Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff.

The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev David Thomson said: “We remember the complexity of those years.

“We remember all those who were caught up in the tragic events of that war: those who were killed in action, or by disease; the bereaved, the lost, the families which were shattered; the wounded, maimed and injured; those who held in silence unspeakable memories of warfare.”

Some of those memories are captured forever in the diary of George Punchard, a tannery worker from Ipswich who was a bandsman in the 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment, but acted as a stretcher-bearer on the First World War battlefield.

In an extract, which was read by Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk, George Paul, Mr Punchard described how he came to the aid of one of his “pals” who had been shot through the leg.

He tried to make him comfortable, ready to move him, but he had lost a lot of blood. Absorbed in his work, Mr Punchard had not noticed they were coming under attack.

“My pal was just breathing and his eyes were closed so I had to leave him,” he wrote.

During the sermon, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, spoke of how he was moved at a village church which had for a war memorial 15 to 20 small photographs of the servicemen who had perished.

“It was one of those times when the hair on the back of your neck stands on end because suddenly the war memorial was real,” he said. “It was real people. I could see them. These were the men which went from this village and didn’t come back.”

Assistant Bishop Graeme urged people to take their local war memorial seriously, asking when they next drive past it to stop and get out, stand in front of it and read the names, aloud if brave enough, and to give a face to each of them.

He asked people to do this regularly in the coming five years so it became in their hearts and minds a prayer.

The Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Lord Tollemache, said in a message: “We pray for the people of our nation and we commit ourselves afresh this day to strive for peace and to serve our communities, our nation and the world.”

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