YOUNG servicemen and women of today stepped forward to play a key role in remembering those whose sacrifices a century ago secured their country’s freedom.
The cadets joined the special celebration at St Helens Cemetery , held on the eve of the 100th anniversary since the First World War began.
And a select group were given the task of reading out names of a few soldiers who were among the thousands of ordinary St Helens lads never to return from the battlefields of the Great War.
- We will remembe them: Cadets line up to read out name sof the fallen
As they stood amid the silence to read the name, age, occupation and home address of a First World War soldier, it struck home that those who made the ultimate sacrifice between 1914 and 1918 would have been little older than the sea, air and army cadets speaking before Sunday’s crowds.
The ceremony had been organised by Friends of St Helens Cemetery and was the culmination of three years research surrounding the graves of soldiers who were killed in the battles that raged around a century ago.
It included addresses from the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Dame Lorna Muirhead and Canon Geoff Almond, who is also a St Helens councillor.
- Salute: a tribute to those from St Helens who served in the First World War
Throughout the cemetery the Friends group, with the help of local sea, air and army cadets, placed a cross of poppies on every grave or headstone with a WW1 dedication.
Year 4 pupils from Queens Park Primary School began the task – placing crosses on 50 graves last month.
The event concluded with the former army corporal Andy Reid, who is a triple amputee following injuries suffered in Afghanistan unveiling a memorial stone to the fallen.
It lies in a section of the cemetery where a wild flower and poppy field was created earlier this year by the Friends.
- Honoured: Andy Reid unveils the memorial stone
Speaking to the crowds, Andy said he felt a debt of gratitude to those whose who gave their lives as he stressed the importance of marking the centenary.
He said soldiers back then who had the injuries that he suffered would have had “no chance of them making it home”. But he added that it was only through their sacrifices and the advancements in medical care in the field meant he was standing among the crowds.
Marlene Downey, from the Friends, added: “We hope that the poppies, which will be visible throughout the old sections of the cemetery, will remind visitors of the sacrifice made by so many local men and the impact this war had on the families and the people of St Helens.”
- Friends of St Helens Cemetery, guests and dignitaries