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Village History

Families pay a special tribute

Posted on September 03 2014 at 2:31:43 0 comments

Kids at Menin Gate

Two Alvechurch families made sure that village soldiers killed in the First World War were remembered at the 100-year anniversary commemorations in Belgium.

Mark and Julie O’Neill and their children Emily and Harrison (aged 13 and 10) and Malcolm and Anne-Marie Ross and their children Josie and Patrick (also 13 and 10) travelled to the town of Mons for the events on August 4, the date when Britain joined the conflict.

They took with them a wreath in memory of the war dead listed on the Alvechurch School war memorial (in the Alvechurch Historical Society Museum) and the Alvechurch Parish War Memorial in St Laurence Church.

Before the trip, Alvechurch Middle School pupils, including Emily, wrote a poem to be put on the wreath along with a message from headmistress Karen Jordan, who also gave a school assembly on the subject. The wreath was then laid under the church war memorial for a week.

The official ceremony at the St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons wasn’t open to the public, so the families watched on a big screen in the town centre – but they did see the young royals when they appeared on the town hall balcony ahead of the ceremony.

The families had also got in touch with The Last Post Association, who invited them to the official Last Post Ceremony at The Menin Gate on August 6.

The children laid the wreath (and another from Dodderhill School, where Josie is a pupil) during that ceremony, and later located the names of two Alvechurch men – Albert Charles Tremlett and Bertie William Fenn – inscribed on the Menin Gate.     

While in Belgium, the group also took time to find the graves of George Henry Parr and Basil Martin, who are listed on the Alvechurch war memorial, and Hubert “Bert” Henry Hartells, of Rowney Green, whose story we covered in our July issue.

“The trip was a very moving experience for us all,” says Mark. “The children said they felt very privileged to lay wreaths on behalf of their schools, and they will remember the Last Post ceremony for the rest of their lives.

“We’re also glad we could visit the graveyard – we’ve all seen photos from the war but seeing the graves in person really put things in perspective.”

The poem on the wreath:

For those who fought in world war one,
We offer our appreciation and thanks for our wellbeing,
You sacrificed your lives to create a safer place for us to live in,
We will remember you

Serving our country you risked your lives for us,
You led us to victory and never gave up,
And we respect your courage, bravery and determination,
We will remember you

The pupils and teachers at Alvechurch Church of England Middle School place this wreath to thank you for all you have done

Top: Patrick, Harrison, Emily and Josie at the Menin Gate.

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