Our exhibition, Our Boys, Cockshutt Remembers the Fallen of the Great War, set out to tell the real-life stories, before conscription, of the men behind the names on the War Memorial.
It was a theme which evidently intrigued a great many people from both near and far, as evidenced by the contributions they made to the displays. As each artefact (each with its own story to tell) was brought forward and added to the exhibition, it helped with the building of the powerful story of how ordinary young men, quietly getting on with their lives in a quiet, rural back-water, became embroiled in one of the most terrible, barbaric conflicts ever known. Honourable and duty-bound, their hopes and aspirations were cruelly and swiftly snatched away as they each died a brutal, agonizing death, far from home.
It is testament to the willingness of Our Boys, to go that extra step in the pursuit of freedom, truth and justice, only too aware that death lurked all around them, that inspired so many of us to be a part of the telling of their stories.
As time moves on and we have chance to catch our breath and reflect upon how we paid homage to our WW1 fallen, the word that comes to mind is, quite simply, “inspirational.” So many people wanted to be involved, from the very young to the not quite so young!
We knitted, carved and baked; unearthed family heirlooms and borrowed bridles from our horses. Others lent military uniforms, academic caps and gowns and even an aeroplane propeller. The flower arrangements were amazing, as was the enormous hand-crafted poppy banner hanging from the tower. The music provided a calm and reflective ambiance.
The list is endless, but above all and in whatever capacity, everyone gave their time and support in loving remembrance of Our Boys.
In a poignant act of homage and remembrance, the community of Cockshutt and surrounding areas, together with descendants of the fallen, laid wreaths and crosses around the War Memorial, thinking perhaps of the words we had just heard:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
At 11am, on 11th November 2018, the packed Parish Church of Ss Simon & Jude, Cockshutt joined the nation, as we fell silent in hushed tribute to all those who have died whilst serving our country, keeping us safe from harm.
Peacefully sitting amongst were the silhouettes. Ethereal, There, But Not There, they provided a channel for our thoughts and prayers as we tried to comprehend the debt we owe to all those who have fallen in the name of justice, peace and freedom.
As the names of our WW1 fallen were called out and our attention focused on the hundred years centenary of the 1918 Armistice, it really did feel as if we had finally brought Our Boys home.