A unique Lamplight of Peace has been commissioned to commemorate the work of WW1 tunnellers and the millions of soldiers, sailors and merchant seamen that lost their lives during WW1. It will be lit at a ceremony at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, Westminster Abbey, at 18:20 on August 4th 2018. This marks the first day of the last 100 days before Remembrance Sunday on 11th November.
The event is part of Battle’s Over – A Nation’s Tribute being organised by International Pageantmaster Bruno Peek LVO OBE OPR to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War on 11th November 1918.
The focal point of the mounted Lamplight of Peace is an original Bonnetted Clanny (Meusler) Lamp that would have been used by miners in British coalfields and subsequently in the tunnels.
The four sides of the wooden base on which it stands display strands from German and British barbed wire of the period, coal from the last British major coal mine, shards of trench post and soil from a WW1 trench near Ypres, ballast from the railway line where the Armistice was signed in Compiegne, France, and a replica of a Victoria Cross.
Bruno Peek said: “The tunnellers are some of the great unsung heroes of the Great War. They fought their war underground, constantly surrounded by darkness and danger as they dug explosive-packed tunnels beneath enemy lines. Their extraordinary bravery has largely been forgotten but I hope that this event will serve to shed some light in the work they undertook in unimaginable conditions”.
The lighting of the Lamplight of Peace at Westminster Abbey will mark the beginning of the 100-day journey of the Lamp. It will spend 25 days each with the four military charities involved in Battle’s Over – A Nation’s Tribute: The Royal Naval Association, ABF The Soldiers Charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund and the Merchant Navy Association.
Air Vice-Marshal David Murray, Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “All three services and the Merchant Navy made huge sacrifices during WW1. As the Royal Air Force’s leading welfare charity, we are aware of the importance of this poignant tribute, and the need to commemorate such a seminal period in the history of our nation. With hope comes light and inspiration, but we must never forget the darkness of the days that have passed.
“As we celebrate the centenary of the RAF and look towards our next 100th anniversary next year, we welcome the opportunity to remember and reflect.”
On completion of the lighting ceremony, the Lamp will be passed into the care of Warrant Officer Paul Jackson RN and the Chaplain of the Fleet, Rev Martin Gough QHC. The Lamplight of Peace will be taken to Portsmouth and will arrive by sea at the Historic Dockyard at 11:00 on Sunday 5th August. It will be received at the Jutland 100 Exhibition by the National Museum of the Royal Navy and then placed next to the 4-inch gun from HMS Lance, which fired the first shot of the war at sea.
At the end of the 100 days, the Lamplight of Peace will be transferred from the Mariners’ Chapel at All Hallows’ by the Tower, London, to the Abbey by members of the Merchant Navy Association in time for the start of the Battle’s Over events at 6:00 on Sunday 11th November. The Lamp will be positioned alongside the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, where a lone piper will then play Battle’s O’er. This tune was played at the end of every battle and has a haunting quality evoking loss and remembrance.
Later that night, the Dean of Westminster will use the flame from the Lamp to light a WW1 Beacon of Light at Westminster Abbey, the first of over one thousand being lit throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories as part of Battle’s Over – A Nation’s Tribute.