Sunday the 11th of November marks 100 years since World War One ended and at Eggesford Airfield a remembrance event took place to remember all those that sacrificed their lives for our Country. Nigel Skinner and Robert Skinner, organisers of the event, owners of Eggesford Airfield and Trenchard Farm decided to be a part of something bigger, to be a part of their remembrance.
Across the country and the world over 1000 pipers opened the commemoration at 6am with a traditional Scottish lament played at the end of the battle ‘Battle’s o’er. At 6:55pm 1000 individual Buglers sounded ‘The Last Post’ tribute. This was followed by the ‘Ringing out for Peace’ whereby over 1000 cathedrals and churches rang out their bells in celebration of peace. Followed by a Cry for Peace Around the World whereby 100 Town Criers around the world called out for peace.
Here at Eggesford Colonel Victor Matthews, Colonel David Gruncell and group Captain James Penellum opened the event followed by a precession of activities to mark the end of WW1, 100 years ago. Starting with ‘The Last Post’ tribute by Eggesford own Ruairidh Matthews. Robert Skinner then lit the beacon of light that symbolizes the end to the darkness of the war. This was followed by the ringing of the bells at Eggesford church to mark the celebration of peace. After this, here at Eggesford a minute of silence was taken to remember all those who were lost and all those that sacrificed.
(Robert Skinner Lighting the Beacon, © National Library of Scotland)
(Ruairidh Matthews Playing the Last Tribute)
During the event itself Nigel and Robert Skinner decided to showcase a specific man and women of WW1 to show people just what the women and men of WW1 did for their country and their people.
Irene ‘Winkie’ Gartside-Spaight photographed below was a nurse in WW1. Having signed up to volunteer she was posted at a convent in Nieuwpoort, Belgium near the front line. She can be seen pictured below at No Man’s Land. She was courageously looking after refugees, people who were displaced by the fighting. After the war was over her family moved to Canada due to threats by the IRA. They burnt down their home near Limerick as they were Protestant timber traders, not Catholic. Once in Canada Winki met a young man who would become her husband. He too fought in WW1, being apart of the Navy. According to history trawlers were used by the British for some missions, however they had no radio communication. He devised a method of communication with the trawlers be writing a note to put in a hollowed out potato and throwing it from his ship to the trawler. With Winkie’s Great Granddaughter here at the remembrance event, who herself is now a nurse, a feeling of great pride and patriotism comes across us all.
Lance Corporal William Arthur Fry MM was born in Bideford and was the eldest of 7. While only a young boy him and his family moved to Loosebear Manor, Zeal Monachorum to work as farmers. When war broke out Arthur was called to arms and enlisted into the Royal Army Medical Corps as a stretcher bearer. Before moving to France he married a local girl from Zeal Monachorum. They had three weeks together before he moved, this was the last time she was to see him. In France Arthur was known to have taken part in the battles of Vimy Ridge, Messines and Meni, surviving all three unscathed. However on November the 23rd at 02:00 word came into their camp of a wounded German Officer lying some 400yrds from their dugout. Courageously, although advised against Arthur alongside Pte’s Bennett and Bland went to Germans aid but within minutes Arthur was struck by shrapnel from a German Shell. Arthur continued to be struck while trying to save the life of the German who showed no gratitude, but rather cursed those who were trying to save his life. Arthur shortly died from his injuries after reaching their dugout and is buried in Roisel Community Cemetery, France. This courageous act shows that even in the face of such despair, humanity prevailed.
(Lance Corporal William Arthur Fry MM)
The heroism shown by just these two individuals gives an indication to the shear sacrifice and courage that everyone must have showed in the face of war. Acts such as these will never be forgotten.
The Sign Maker, a local Devon company donated a beautiful plaque in remembrance of WW1 (pictured below) that was unveiled during the event. A quote from Kate Price one of managing directors;
‘Well done to Rob and Nigel Skinner for putting on such a lovely event. Not only did they organise everything, but they also provided free beer and burgers. An evening to remember and one that The Sign Maker was very happy to support – Thank you’
(Plaque Donated by The Sign Maker)
(Over 150 people in attendance of the event)