As the Armistice Centenary draws to a close at 7pm on November 11 more than 1,300 Beacons of Light will be lit across the UK, Channel Isles, Isle of Man and the UK overseas territories. The beacons and their accompanying ceremonies will commemorate and remember the millions who were killed and wounded in World War One as well as all of those who worked on the home front.
Symbolising the light of hope emerging from the darkness of war our two nearest beacon ceremonies can be found on Marlborough Common and Rockley. It is hoped that as many as possible will be there to participate. Across Wiltshire there will be more than twenty other beacons.
Marlborough’s Mayor, Lisa Farrell will light the Marlborough beacon at 7pm. The lighting will be followed by the reading out of the names of those from Marlborough who died in World War One. Town Crier, Mike Tupman will make a Cry for Peace.
The bells of St Mary’s will ring out for peace together with the bells of 1,250 churches nationwide. The bells also commemorate the 1,400 bell ringers who lost their lives in World War One.
Town Clerk, Shelley Parker said of the Battle’s Over Beacon Ceremony, “It’s a really nice tribute and the Town Council is really pleased to be working with Rotary to make this happen. We appreciate the support we have had from so many people, especially the Rugby Club for opening up their club house, and to TH White for their help in erecting the beacon.”
Ken and Jilly Carter are responsible for the Rockley Beacon which is set high on the downs at Maizey Farm, Rockley, SN8 IRX. Retired Marlborough policeman and parish councillor, Sid Vincent, is helping with the organisation and safety of the ceremony.
Ken will light the beacon at the same time as all other beacons – 7pm, and this will be accompanied by piper, John Hedger playing the traditional ‘Battle’s O’er’. The names of those who died in World War One and who appear on the village war memorial, will be read out in an act of remembrance.
Ken and Jilly both have grandfathers who fought in World War One. Jilly’s grandfather, Arthur Curnick, served with the Royal Garrison Artillery in France. Ken’s grandfather, Harry Fisher, fought with the Machine Gun Corps from 1915 to 1918.
Ken told Marlborough.news, “He survived and went on to live into his eighties, but he never spoke of his experiences. It was just too traumatic.”
“The beacon ceremony is an ideal way to celebrate and to remember the end of the Great War. Our beacon is in an ideal position on top of a hill. It will be seen for miles.”
If you wish to attend the Rockley Beacon Ceremony, parking is available, organised by Sid Vincent’s daughter, Trooper Katy Vincent. Participants are advised to bring a torch, wear wellies and arrive at 6.30pm. The Marlborough Beacon will be visible from the site.
The idea for the Battle’s Over Beacons was inspired by a comment made on Aug 3 1914 by the British Foreign Minister, Sir Edward Grey. As he looked out of his London office window at dusk as gas lights were being lit he commented, “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them again in our lifetime.”
More information, including a list of all the beacons to be lit can be found at - https://www.brunopeek.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Battle’s-Over-Guide.pdf