Stowmarket: Royal British Legion plan major events to mark First World War

THE SOMME: British troops negotiate a trench as they go forward in support of an attack on the villa

THE SOMME: British troops negotiate a trench as they go forward in support of an attack on the village of Morval during the Battle of the Somme. A shell can be seen exploding in the distance. Picture part of PA First World War collection. - Credit: PA

Generations after their families fought and worked in the First World War, pupils will remember the sacrifice paid when they pen essays on the soldiers who died from one Suffolk town.

As they sit trying to understand the horrors of the Great War, the children from Stowmarket High School will write about the 79 men whose names are on the town’s war memorial. The three best essays will be featured during a weekend of events over May 17-18 to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the war at the Museum of East Anglian Life in the town.

On the Saturday there will be an open-air concert and picnic in the park at the museum’s Abbot’s Hall. The following day artefacts from the time will be displayed at an Antiques Roadshow-style event.

Also on the Sunday will be an antiques fair, organised by Stowmarket Rotary Club, with dealers presenting their collections from the early 20th Century. Ted Champion, president of the Stowmarket branch of the Royal British Legion which is organising the weekend, said: “The war has been brought up by Jeremy Paxman’s programme (Britain’s Great War) which has brought to life that time and the suffering that everybody went through.

“There are lots of people with stuff up in their attics and do not know what to do with them.”

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Stowmarket Town Council has been helping the legion organise the events. Michelle Marshall, the deputy town clerk, said: “The council is extremely proud to be working in conjunction with the Royal British Legion to ensure that the centenary of the First World War is marked in a fitting manner in the town.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given the legion £5,000 to make the events possible. Gates on the Saturday open at 5.30pm. Sunday’s events will run between 11am-5pm.

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