The Mayor of Derry & Strabane John Boyle has spoken of how his own grandfather survived the trenches of WW1 as he launched a series of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the War.
The international commemoration of the centenary of the end of World War I – entitled ‘Battle’s Over’ – will see a unique series of events taking place throughout countries around the world in remembrance of the millions of men and women who gave their lives or returned home wounded after ‘The Great War’ (1914-18).
The events will include a lunchtime lecture and talk, an exhibition, an interdenominational service and the lighting of two beacons, one in Guildhall Square and the other in the Diamond, Castlederg.
Events will begin at 6am on November 11 with a lone piper playing ‘Battle’s O’er’ and will include a lunchtime talk on the First World War by local historian Seamus Breslin.
There will also be a temporary exhibition in the Guildhall depicting some of the current Creative Centenaries #MakingHistory 1918 Exhibition that is at the Tower Museum until March next year.
The Mayor, whose grandfather fought in the trenches and survived, said it is ‘appropriate to host this unique series of events to remember and honour those who died or were wounded during the dark days of the First World War’.
He added: “It is important to reflect on the tragedy that befell so many young men and women and the families from this island at that time. They came from all walks of life and from every religious and political persuasion.”
“I often think of my own grandfather, Jack Rutherford, who was just a boy of 16 years of age in 1914 when he volunteered to go to war.
“One year later in the autumn of 1915, he was in the trenches of the Western Front and ultimately was part of, and witness to, the tragedy and brutality of the first day of the Somme offensive on the 1st July 1916. He lost many good friends that day and on subsequent days.
“Of his company of 250 men of all ranks only 21 survived the first day of the Somme unscathed. Like so many Irishmen, Nationalist and Unionist, his was only one story. I think that it will be fitting that we remember our fellow countrymen and people of all nations.”
Curator with the Tower Museum, Roisin Doherty said the Museum Service is delighted to be working with the Mayor to deliver this important commemorative event.
Those interested in attending the interdenominational service are encouraged to register by email email@example.com or 0287137508.