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Island prepares to honour war dead

The Royal Bermuda Regiment will be on parade to mark 100 years since the end of World War One. (File photograph)

Soldiers will line up with other groups to mark 100 years since the Armistice that ended “the war to end all wars”.

Troops from the Royal Bermuda Regiment will join forces with churches, Government House and the Government in a series of events designed to commemorate the armistice agreement that ended the First World War fighting at 11am on November 11, 1918.

Government House will organise a beacon lighting on, November 11, open to the public who want to pay their respects to Bermudians and others who fought in the conflict.

The beacon will be lit at sunset and guests are asked to be in place in the gardens of Government House by 4.45pm.

John Rankin, the Governor, said: “It’s an event that’s taking place across the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Overseas Territories to mark the anniversary and the peace that was declared on the eleventh hour of the eleventh month.”

Mr Rankin added that churches across the island will be invited to ring their bells at 3pm on the anniversary as part of the commemoration.

He said: “Church bells that had been silent throughout the war rang out to mark the Armistice.”

Mr Rankin, who is Commander-in-Chief of the RBR, added: “This is a joint effort with the German Government to ring bells at that time.”

The Governor will also take part in the traditional wreath laying at the Centotaph on November 11, as well as a wreath-laying ceremony at the Bermuda Militia Artillery war memorial in St George at 10.30am on Sunday, November 4.

Mr Rankin will also attend a wreath-laying ceremony by the Bermuda Sea Cadets at the memorial to the Second World War’s HMS Jervis Bay, a convoy escort which left Bermuda as part of a convoy and was sunk with most of her crew off Iceland in November 1940 in battle against a German cruiser.

The ceremony will take place at the memorial to the ship at Albuoy’s Point in Hamilton on November 11 at 9am.

Alison Crocket, the Deputy Governor, will attend a wreath laying at the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps memorial in Hamilton’s Victoria Park on the morning of November 11.

The segregated BMA and the BVRC were combined in 1965 to form the modern Royal Bermuda Regiment. The traditional commemoration service at the Cenotaph on Front Street will start at 10.30am on November 11 and feature the Regiment, other uniformed services and veterans on parade.

The Anglican Cathedral on Hamilton’s Church Street will unveil a renewed historic First World War stained glass window, installed in 1925 and restored at a cost of more than $76,000 by specialists in the UK.

Canon Norman Lynas of the cathedral said: “The window is Bermuda’s national war memorial to the dead of the great war.

“It was to all of the Bermudians who died and I think there are 85 names listed from the various units that left Bermuda to fight in the Great War.”

The window, a crusader on a horse flanked by servicemen, was created by Scottish artists Alice and Meredith Williams, who also created the Scottish War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle.

Canon Lynas added: “We will hold a special service on November 10 at 4pm when the stained glass window will be rededicated in the presence of the Governor, the Royal Bermuda Regiment and other dignitaries.”

The cost of the repairs and reinstallation was met with help from the Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Royal Bermuda Regiment Trust, the Corporation of Hamilton and a bequest from the late Ross Manders to maintain the fabric of the cathedral.

First World War uniforms, including one owned by Joseph Watlington, who was killed in action in 1917 serving with the Royal Flying Corps, which later became the Royal Air Force, will be displayed at the cathedral.

A uniform of a Lincolnshire Regiment officer, the unit soldiers from the BVRC served in during the war and a Royal Navy uniform of the period will also be on show.

Lieutenant Colonel David Curley, the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s commanding officer, said: “Among the many roles the Regiment performs is ceremonial duty and we will be honoured to march on Remembrance Sunday to commemorate those who served.

“We are proud to preserve the golden thread that links our distinguished predecessors with the modern Royal Bermuda Regiment and to honour their memory through discipline, self-sacrifice and dedication to duty.”

He added the First World War was the start of modern warfare and lessons learnt then are still applied in RBR training.

Colonel Curley said: “I wish to honour the many Bermudians who fought alongside allied forces for their valuable contributions and service in the Great War.

“We are truly grateful to them for allowing us to live in the freedom they protected.”

Wayne Caines, the national security minister and a former RBR officer, added: “Bermuda will join other nations around the world in recognising the 100th Anniversary of Remembrance Day.

“Bermuda had veterans and volunteers who served with the Allied forces in the First World War and we are obliged to remember and honour their sacrifice and their service.”