THE lights will go out at Holton Road Church on August 4, to mark the Centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, the world’s most costly war and one which continues to affect our lives today.
Barry at War chair, Ade Pitman explained the significance of this event saying: "To mark the Centenary of the Outbreak of the Great War, candlelit vigils will be held across Britain and cathedrals near to the battlefields, to mirror a service that took place in Westminster Abbey one hundred years before.
Candles will be extinguished to echo a remark of the (then) Foreign Secretary Viscount Edward Grey, who said on the outbreak of the Great War, 'The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our time'.
For many this was true, as by the following Christmas thousands of people had died on the battlefields and the high seas.
With Barry & the Vale having lost so many of its men-folk during the Great War, it is right that we remember and mark the Centenary of this momentous day in the world’s history, and work to explain its significance to younger generations by remembering the price that was paid by all involved, and how this has shaped the world in which we live today.
Barry at War intends to ensure that Barry & the Vale are at the forefront of the UK’s Great War commemoration programme."
Ade Continued: "I admit to not being an expert on the Great War, but thankfully Barry is blessed with several historians who are.
However, in the relatively short time that I have been involved in helping to promote this aspect of our wartime heritage I can't help but see why this war had such an effect on our society.
Here in Glamorgan we are blessed with some very capable female political leaders, and yet before the Great War women did not even have a vote.
This was because most of the men were fighting, so women carried out ‘men’s work’ during the war. This greatly advanced the Suffragette movement’s drive towards equality for women.
I have also learned recently that Barry was home to several wartime hospitals towards the end of the Great War, with hundreds of wounded troops recovering in the town. This was unsurprising as the casualty figures from this period were horrific.
For example, the British Army suffered almost twice as many casualties on the first day of the Battle of the Somme as there were people living in Barry at the time. Just think of how that affected the communities across Glamorgan.
Over 700 of Barry's men never returned from the war, and the same proportion of men failed to return to the villages around Glamorgan. This is why most villages in the county have war memorials.
Because of this a generation of women could not find husbands; simply because there weren't enough men around following the Great War.
These are some of the reasons why we should strive to remember the Great War; not just for those who fought and who we will never know, but for the legacy that was left for today's society. This is why I am seeking to create a Glamorgan Great War Centenary Centre in Barry.
Barry at War group will also be holding a display about Barry & the Vale during the Great War in Barry library in the run up to the Centenary of its outbreak, and this year’s Barry Wartime Weekend will also feature a Great War living history encampment, complete with Cavalry unit. The Barry Wartime Weekend will take place on the weekend of Aug 30/31, almost 100 years to the day that my Grandfather left home to play his part in it."
The ‘Lights going out’ commemorative service will take place at Holton Road Church, Barry from 7pm on August 4. The last candle will be extinguished at 9pm. For more details contact Rev Ben Andrews on 01446 406690.