Ipswich: Ipswich mayor says WWI death toll “scarcely credible”

Mayor of Ipswich Hamil Clarke joins his counterpart in the twin town of Arras to unveil the new info

Mayor of Ipswich Hamil Clarke joins his counterpart in the twin town of Arras to unveil the new information panels today. - Credit: Archant

The Mayor of Ipswich has said the death toll of the First World War is “scarcely credible to modern eyes”.

He was speaking at the unveiling of panels which will teach a new generation about the sacrifice made during the First World Way.

Councillor Hamil Clarke visited Ipswich’s twin town of Arras in France today where he and the town’s mayor M. Frédéric Leturque launched the panels at the Arras Memorial.

Mr Clarke said the death toll for those who fought in the Arras sector was “truly horrific”.

“That is why it gives me great pleasure to stand alongside my friends from Arras and I thank them for their invitation,” he said. “As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Great War it is even more vital that we all understand what went on and teach the lessons of history to our children.”

The panels unveiled today at Arras are part of a global initiative by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) to provide more information to the public during the Centenary of the First World War.

Through a combination of traditional interpretive techniques and the latest smartphone technology, the panels reveal the personal stories of some of those buried or commemorated at the location.

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One of those is Major Edward Corringham Mannock, an ace fighter pilot who won two Military Crosses and completed three combat tours on the Western Front.

Another is Walter Tull, the first person of Afro-Caribbean heritage to be commissioned as an infantry officer in the British Army.

Mr Ian Hussein, the CWGC’s Director in France, said: “As we approach the Centenary of the Great War the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s plans to engage new generations in the importance of those events, are taking shape.

“These panels are part of that process – a global initiative that will help visitors gain an understanding of why these cemeteries and memorials exist, why it is important to visit them and maintain them, and who these men and women were.

“The stories of those we commemorate will help bring home to all of us the great sacrifice made by the servicemen and women who went away to fight in two world wars.

“They are a powerful way of combining traditional forms of remembrance, with new technology, to ensure that we never forget – a commemoration that will capture the imagination of all generations and communities and one that allows them to pay respect, to visit, to be moved and to learn.”