Soldier silhouettes to be placed in communities to mark centenary of First World War's end
South Tyneside is set to commemorate a centenary of remembrance with a special programme of events taking place across the borough.
The 6ft aluminium silhouette of a soldier will be lit up as part of a unique hour-long event at South Shields seafront, where the South Tyneside Council will also join the nation’s tribute in lighting a beacon.
In addition to that display, and as part of community activities, 12 smaller Perspex silhouettes of Tommy soldiers will be displayed across the area.
The silhouettes form part of the There But Not There project - a national art installation representing the fallen British and Commonwealth First World War soldiers within the communities they left behind.
They will be placed as Sunday, November 11, marks the day 100 years ago when the guns fell silent at the end of the First World War.
Organisations and communities the length and breadth of the UK, as well as in countries abroad, will come together on the day to remember the sacrifice of the millions of men and women who died, or returned home wounded, during the harrowing four year conflict.
Councillor Ed Malcolm, chairman of South Tyneside Armed Forces Forum, said: “The legacy of the First World War impacted every corner of the country, touching the lives of so many people, whether this is through family history, the heritage of our local communities or because of the role it played in shaping the world we live in today.
“Every year we reflect on the grave losses of those dark years, remember the sacrifice of all those brave men and women who died in this bloody battle and those who returned home a changed person, dreadfully wounded both mentally and physically.
“However this year we mark 11 November as a special act of remembrance.
"We are extremely proud to be joining the nation to commemorate this pivotal moment in world history with a unique event which will include the lighting of a beacon as a symbol of the light of hope that emerged from the darkness of war a century ago.
“It is also especially important that we use these commemorations to help educate our younger generation about the legacy of this terrible war, acknowledge the huge support of those on the home front who kept our great country moving and give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy today.”
The commemorations at South Shields seafront on Sunday, November 11, will begin with the beacon lighting at 5pm.
People will be encouraged to gather at Harbour Drive car park to see live stage performances from local groups, learn about the extensive work of local projects, which will be shown on a large screen and hear moving readings of personal letters sent from the front line.
The evening will also recreate the sounds of the end of the First World War with a spectacular fireworks display set to WWI-themed music and gun fire and church bells drawing the event to a close.
The large scale display on November 11 will replace the annual Bonfire night fireworks displays, which are usually held a week earlier.
Councillor Malcolm added: “The event on 11 November is a key part of the wider commemorations taking place across the borough.
"We hope that people will join us in coming together to reflect on the WWI at what is set to be an extremely moving, but memorable, event.”
The council is working with community groups and organisations, which will be marking the commemorations with a series events and activities in the run up to Sunday, November 11, when the borough’s annual Armistice Day services and wreath-laying will also take place as usual.
Other events include commemoration exhibits and activities at The Word, from Saturday, October 13, and a WWI themed music event at The Customs House on Sunday, November 11.
The work to commemorate the end of the WWI has been underway for the past four years, thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery.
Projects have included a new South Tyneside Remembers website launched to create a lasting memorial to all those local individuals who served during the conflict.
The council has also worked with North Tyneside Council on a community heritage project exploring the challenges and changes faced by local families in the post-war period.
This research, involving local organisations, groups and school children, is being collated for showcasing on a new online resource to be used by schools and the wider public.
Further details about the end of the First World War commemorations will be published in due course.