Knitted Poppies for Remembrance
“The news that the armistice was to come into effect was got forward to our far-flung patrols and batteries with great promptitude and a Great Silence fell upon the land after 11 o’clock…Our scattered troops were told to unfix bayonets and upload magazines and to stand to for further orders. I believe there was some demonstrativeness on the German side…German troops being seen trying to break their rifles or throwing them away….”
The Times, November 12th 1918
The Great Silence
“And continuously the church bells tolled sorrowfully and persistently. It was more than a call to prayer – more than a tribute. In the great awful silence that that fell upon London’s streets yesterday there was a glimpse into the soul of the Nation”
The Times, November 12th 1919
“so that in perfect stillness, the thoughts of every one may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.”
King George V 1919
The school Log Book for Trimley St. Martin has a sombre entry for 11th November 1919. It records the moment the whole school, along with the rest of the Nation, stood in silence for five minutes. This was in accord with George V’s invitation to recall and respect the sacrifice made by men and women during the course of the First World War. It was called The Great Silence and although the name has varied over the years, these two minutes have been set aside ever since that initial event. Poppy Day, Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, whichever name you use, the intention remains unaltered. The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month is when we are silent for two minutes, to reflect and recalling those who died in the First World War and indeed, all the other wars since then.
As the one hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War approaches, the two Trimley villages of St. Martin’s and St. Mary’s are marking the occasion with a strong statement. During the Summer, St. Martin’s Parish Council organised displays of poppies with the names of The Fallen of the Parish. But at the same time, the Church was organising another display: people were invited to knit poppies which would be sewn onto netting, enabling a cascade of poppies to be displayed from the highest building in the village. This of course, is the Tower of St. Martin’s and the intention was to create a visible sign of the villages’ respect for those who died in the First World War.
Consequently, knitters of both parishes set to, creating well in excess of two and a half thousand poppies, in different sizes but all in various shades of red. During the last full week of October several people started to assemble the Cascade, sewing black centres to the poppies and then attaching the finished item to a ten or twelve metre stretch of netting. The day for raising the Cascade was fixed to be 27th October 2018 and on that day I attended to watch the tribute being put into place.
There was more than a hint of cold as the Team assembled outside St. Martin’s. The upper crew consisted of four on the tower while the ground base team comprised somewhat more. Carefully coordinating their actions and taking time to ensure the Cascade was not snagged on any brick work or other protusions, they began the work of pulling the finished work to the castellated roof top. In less than thirty minutes the entire display was visible to all who passed by. The humble poppies have been elevated into something significant and visually stunning.
Andrew, the Churchwarden advised me of the following events, should you wish to participate.
“On Saturday and Sunday 10th /11th November, St. Martin’s church will be open for visitors with refreshments available. Saturday – 10.00hrs till 15.30hrs; Sun – 12.00 noon till 15.30hrs. St. Mary’s church will be opened on request during these times. In case these times should alter, you may wish to check before setting out.
On Sunday 11th November, there will be the joint Trimley parishes Remembrance service in St. Martin’s, starting at 10.45hrs prompt. All need to arrive by 10.40hrs latest. We envisage seating to be in short supply, so those who are late might have to stand. After the service, there will be Wreath laying ceremonies at both the War memorial at the entrance to St. Martin’s churchyard and also inside St. Mary’s church.”
The Cascade waiting to be transported and unrolled
The Tower Team preparing for the Cascade to be raised
The Ground Team ensuring all the poppies are firmly in place
The full view of the Cascade by Day…
… and by night