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The sacrifice of those who fought and died in World War 1 will be honoured in a succession of special events led by the Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Peter Chillingworth, marking the day the guns fell silent a century ago.
Soldiers will be on parade alongside civic dignitaries, members of the Royal British Legion and the public for the main service of Remembrance at Colchester’s war memorial, at the precise moment an end to hostilities was declared 100 years ago.
The full day of tributes begins at 6am, with a bagpipe lament, Battle’s O’er, played from the Town Hall balcony, as a thousand other bagpipes sound across the nation.
The focus later shifts to the War Memorial for the traditional Remembrance service and wreath-laying ceremony. Some 180 soldiers from the town’s 16 Air Assault Brigade, 156 Provost Company Royal Military Police and 161 Medical Squadron, 254 Medical Regiment will be on parade. A 105mm Light Gun from 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery will fire, to mark the beginning and end of the two-minute silence at 11am. After the service, the troops will march through the town centre alongside veterans and youth organisations.
The Band of The Parachute Regiment and Colchester Military Wives Choir will perform before and during the service, which will also feature a prayer reading by young people whose relatives fell in the Great War.
At 11.59 the Sanctus Bell will be rung in the Town Hall, and at 12 noon the Mayor will recreate the scene from 100 years ago when the proclamation declaring the end of the Great War was read from the Town Hall balcony.
Shortly afterwards, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, Mayor Peter Chillingworth and Brigadier Nick Perry, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, will lay wreaths at the ‘Roll to the Fallen’ memorial in the Town Hall foyer.
A civic reception in Moot Hall then follows, during which the Mayor’s schools’ art competition winners will be announced.
Commemorations move to Castle Park, from 6.30pm, beginning with a ceremonial tree planting close to the Castle Park gates in Museum Street. A Liquid Amber, a tree whose leaves turn red in autumn, will be planted by the Mayor and blessed by the Bishop of Colchester.
The public are invited to process with the Mayor into Upper Castle Park, to hear The Last Post played at 6.55pm and look on as the World War 1 Beacon of Light is lit at 7pm.
A five-minute nationwide peal of bells then follows, as the Sanctus Bell rings out again from the Town Hall and a Town Crier joins in the global ‘Cry for Peace’ in Upper Castle Park – bringing an end to the Armistice Day commemorations.
The Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Peter Chillingworth, said: “I am immensely honoured and humbled to be leading the borough’s tributes to the thousands of local men and women who served their country in the war to end all wars, as well as to the millions who have served and died in defence of freedom and peace throughout the intervening years.
“On this special day of Remembrance, I would encourage everyone to join with me to honour those lost in war and spend some time to reflect on the courage and sacrifice of former and current Service men and women, to whom we all owe an enormous and enduring debt of gratitude.”
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Caldwell, Commander Colchester Garrison, said: “Remembrance is hugely important for our country and very real for those of us serving in the Armed Forces. 2018 is particularly poignant as we mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.
“We remember with deep gratitude the sacrifice of young men and women who have given their lives for others, not only in the First and Second World Wars, but in the many conflicts and military operations that have subsequently taken place. We also remember their families and all those who have been injured and still bear the scars of war.
“It is right that we in the military mark Remembrance shoulder-to-shoulder with the civilian community, from which we are drawn, and I invite the people of Colchester to join us to honour the Fallen.”