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'There But Not There'

World War One ended at 11am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in 1918. Germany signed an armistice (an agreement for peace) that had been prepared by Britain and France. 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice agreement, and towns and cities all over will come together to remember.

The First World War, also known as The Great War (1914–18), was a devastating international conflict involving major European nations, Russia, the USA, and others. During the war, the allies (Great Britain, Russia, France, Italy Japan, and from 1917, the USA) overcame the advancing Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey.

WWI was unparalleled at the time, for the number of lives lost. At the end of 4 years of war, an estimated 15-19 million people lost their lives as a result of their wounds or disease, as well as a further 23 million wounded. WWI was a major transitional period for weaponry and its use in combat. While 20th century technologies were tested and employed, many of the tactics used were rooted in the 19th century. It is thought that this separation between tool, and use, may have accounted for the extraordinary number of lives lost.

why the poppy?

Much of the combat in WWI took place in Western Europe, in what was beautiful countryside. During the war, the landscape was transformed into a war zone - it was bombed again and again, leaving the land muddy, bleak and barren. Nothing could grow in the fields damaged by war, until small and resilient bright red Flanders poppies flourished in their thousands, despite being surrounded by destruction.

In 1915, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (a Canadian doctor) was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battle-scarred fields to write 'In Flanders Fields' - now a world renowned poem. After the First World War, the poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance. The poem inspired Moina Michael (an academic from America) to make and sell the original poppies, that were brought to the UK by a French woman, Anna Guérin. Forming in 1921, The Royal British Legion ordered 9 million of the silk poppies, and sold them on 11/11/21. Selling out near immediately, the first "Poppy Appeal" raised over £106,000 for veterans - a massive amount of money at the time! The following year, Major George Howson set up the Poppy Factory to employ disabled ex-Servicemen. Today, the factory and the Legion's warehouse in Aylesford produces millions of poppies every year.

"Wearing a poppy is a way of showing public appreciation for the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families, in safeguarding our freedoms and values.It represents all those who lost their lives on active service in all conflicts; from the beginning of the First World War right up to the present day. It also honours the contribution of civilian services and the uniformed services which contribute to national peace and security." - The Royal British Legion

Llantwit Major's Remembrance

This year, was the first year, in many years that I have been able to get to the Remembrance events in Llantwit Major, because of being away in Falmouth studying. It was special to me because of that, and because I was joined by Phill for the first time! You can check out his website, and find his social links HERE. We made our way down to the cenotaph early, as I knew it would be especially busy this year. Already, there were at least 100 people gathered on the narrow pavements, and surrounding the band area, while more and more gathered as it got closer to 11am.

100 years since the war ended, Cenotaphs all over the country were gathered at to remember those who have given their lives in b attle, with a special focus this year on the centenary of the WWI armistice. Being so close to MoD St. Athan, Llantwit has always had a big turn out for remembrance Sunday, where members of the public march alongside those in the forces.

Nearing 11am, the drums of the parade could be heard making their way through the town towards the cenotaph. Led by the RAF band, hundreds of local people made their way to where we were. Local people; clubs such as the rugby club, the Scouts and the Guides; the Mayor of Llantwit Major and the Major of the Vale of Glamorgan; members of St. Illtud's Church; as well as the armed forces: The Royal Navy, The RAF, and The Intelligence Corps attended the service. Wreaths were laid by the town, as well as the Lord Lieutenant, the Royal British Legion chairman, Lieutenant Commander of the Royal Navy, and Wing Commander of the RAF - it is not until these different forces come together do you realise how much of a military influence there is on Llantwit Major, and as a result, how many serving men and women come from Llantwit Major.

After the service, silence, laying of the wreaths and poppies, and Roll of Honour, the crowds dispersed, with many stopping to look at the wreaths just laid down. Llantwit always had a lovely display of poppies, and this year was no different.

From the cenotaph, Phill and I headed down to St. Illtud's Church - there was a small exhibition of WWI photographs, medals, and personal belongings that we really wanted to check out, as well as an installation of silhouetted transparent figures, as part of a nationwide campaign to remember those we have lost through conflicts.

st. illtyd's church

The church in Llantwit Major has always been of great significance to the town - it is from the church that Llantwit gets it's name! The Welsh for Llantwit Major is "Llanilltud Fawr", meaning "the great community of Illtud", where Llan is translated as church. Having been referred to as the "Westminster Abbey of Wales", as well as "the most beautiful church in Wales", St. Illtud's is one of the oldest, ands best known parish churches in the country.

Llanilltud Fawr is the home of the earliest centre of learning in Britain! The college at Llantwit Major was known as "Cor Tewdws". Saint Illtud reestablished the great church to be an early Celtic-Christian community, in approximately the year 508 AD, after it was founded in the year 395 AD in honour of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. Cor Tewdws became a very successful place of learning, and a number of the Celtic Saints were educated on site. Saint David, Saint Patrick, Saint Samson, Gildas the Historian, Saint Baglan and King Maelgwn G