BURY turned the clock back 100 years to commemorate the centenary of the start of World War One and the 2,100 men from the borough who made the ultimate sacrifice during the conflict.
A parade and church service was the most high-profile of a series of poignant events which have taken place borough-wide to mark the 100th anniversary of the Great War.
On Monday, the names of Bury’s war dead were read out during a vigil and roll call of honour service at Bury Parish Church.
The town’s centenary events got under way on Saturday with an open day at the Castle Armoury. About 20 armed service and voluntary organisations hosted stands to highlight their history and role in the community.
On Sunday, Bury town centre was brought to a standstill for the parade and church service. The procession started in Knowsley Street at 11am, led by the Band and Drums of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Among those marching were members of the Reserve Army 207 Field Hospital (Bury detachment), the Machine Gun Platoon of the 4th Lancs, Armed Forces veterans, police, air and sea cadets, Bury and Ramsbottom Scouts, Guides, Brownies and Cubs, members of the Women’s Royal Army Corps (WRAC), Tottington Public Band and women in World War One nurses’ uniforms.
Among them were Lorraine Abbott, a nurse at Bealey Community Hospital in Radcliffe, and Joyce Elliott, a senior volunteer with the Fusilier Museum. Joyce said: “We have called ourselves the Nursing Group World War One and this is a one-off event in tribute to the nurses of the Great War.”
Wendy Steven, a representative of the WRAC, said: “This organisation used to be known as the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). Today, I am proudly wearing my late grandmother’s ATS badge.”
Peter Delahunty, aged 76, who did national service with the 1st Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers from 1957 to 1959, travelled from Manchester for the parade and service.
He said: “I always come to Bury for remembrance events because this is the home of the Fusiliers. Today, I will be remembering my uncle Walter who died in the Great War.”
The procession continued to Bury Parish Church for a service of commemoration, led by the Rector of Bury, the Rev Dr John Findon. In his sermon, he referred to the 2,1000 World War One casualties from the borough.
He said: “Tomorrow evening, on the anniversary of the day that war broke out in 1914, we shall read out here the names of those from our little corner of England who lost their lives in the Great War. There are over 2,100 names on our list, and it cannot be complete.
“A member of my congregation has spent months researching, and she has done the best that she can.
"But even if it is incomplete, think of what it means. Reduce the borough’s population then, of say, 100,000 by 50 per cent to allow for the womenfolk, and then reduce that by probably 60 per cent again to allow for those who were too young or too old to fight. 2,100 is a terrifying percentage of what is left.
“And, of course, as you have all reflected many times, the victims were not only the ones in uniform. For every dead soldier there were grieving parents, and wives and children perhaps, or sweethearts who had never even had the chance to marry the men they loved.”
The Rector continued: “And yet, in a world where all the old landmarks seemed to have been swept away, again and again we find in the surviving letters and diaries and reminiscences of these young men an attitude that is anything but harsh or coarse or cynical. “