Richmond remembers the fallen of World War One

Richmond remembers the fallen of World War One

Paying their respects: The service in Radnor Gardens

Paying their respects: The service in Radnor Gardens

Shine a light: Twickenham stadium

First published in News
Last updated
Richmond and Twickenham Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Richmond came together to commemorate and remember those who died in the Great War this week.

Several events were held across the borough, including a candle-lit vigil at Radnor Gardens in Twickenham, attended by the great-granddaughter of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

The 12-hour vigil ran throughout Monday, August 4, to mark 100 years since the beginning of the First World War.

Organised by the Royal British Legion and Friends of Radnor Gardens, the day’s programme centred on the war memorial and started at 9am with the raising of the Union flag.

The eternal flame was lit and a remembrance service, led by Padre David Loftus with a lone piper, saw names of the fallen read out - a mark of respect repeated every two hours.

In the evening, hundreds turned up to join the candle-lit sunset ceremony at 8.46pm, attended by Her Serene Highness Marie-Therese von Hohenberg, Mrs Anthony Bailey.

She said: "On this important occasion and as the great-granddaughter of the first victims of World War I, it is a great honour and a privilege for my husband and me to be with you."

Other guests included the new mayor of Richmond Councillor Jane Boulton, Richmond police borough commander Chief Superintendent Colin Kennedy and local councillors.

Chief Supt Kennedy said: "It was a really humbling experience, seeing hundreds of people all standing there on a summer’s evening to remember the fallen."

For Hampton Wick Councillor Tania Mathias, Conservative parliamentary candidate in Twickenham, the ceremony held particular significance.

Her grandfather, Captain FW Mathias, was in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War.

He won the Military Cross for his courage as a reconnaissance pilot photographing enemy positions under heavy fire, aged just 19.

Dr Mathias said: "So many of the First World War generation were like my grandfather and my great uncles.

"Quiet heroes who never spoke of their heroic deeds yet whose courage and patriotism are the true lights of our candle vigil."

As part of the lights out events being held nationwide, Twickenham stadium extinguished all lights within the ground.

One single candle was lit to remember the thousands of fallen rugby players in the Great War, including 27 England internationals.

RFU community manager Hannah Barrett said: "The candle tonight served as a poignant reminder of all those who lost their lives."

For those wanting to expand their knowledge of the First World War, a teacher at Twickenham Preparatory School has written a novel, which is totally free for consumption.

Head of history Matthew Howorth has made his book, the Officer’s Whistle, available for nothing on both iBooks and Smashwords. It is also available for a nominal price on Amazon.

Mr Howorth said: "I thought by making it free to read, it would be my small contribution to help people remember what happened 100 years ago."

The Officer’s Whistle follows the fortunes of 12-year-old Simon who, together with his father, unearth a trunk of Great War memorabilia including an old whistle before discovering its story.

Many more events are set to be held in the borough to commemorate World War I throughout the year.

For details and dates, visit richmond.gov.uk/ww1.

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