Sunderland remembers outbreak of World War One

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WEARSIDE paid tribute to the those who gave their lives in the First World War at commemoration service to mark the 100th anniversary of the conflict.

The event at Sunderland Minster marked the centenary of Britain declaring war on Germany, on August 4, 1914.

A service at Sunderland Minster commemorated the start of the Great War - the interior of the Minster during the service.

A service at Sunderland Minster commemorated the start of the Great War - the interior of the Minster during the service.

More than 200 people joined civic guests including the Lord Lieutenant, Bishop of Durham, council members and chief officers from Sunderland City Council.

The service included a commemorative address from the Mayor of Sunderland, councillor Stuart Porthouse.

He said: “From the very outbreak of the war, Sunderland responded to the call of duty as men volunteered in their thousands for every branch of the armed forces.

“Battalions raised locally included 160th Wearside Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and the 20th Service Battalion Wearside, Durham Light Infantry.

“Thousands of people were casualties and the impact of this global conflict was felt at home as well as on the front line, significantly when Sunderland came under attack by the German Imperial Navy in a Zeppelin raid that killed 22 people.

“This service at the Minster is about remembering and reflecting on how this conflict changed and shaped the world that we have inherited.”

Taking place on the Town Green outside of the church, the address was followed by the release of homing pigeons, symbolising the city’s message of remembrance.

Homing pigeons are significant because they were used as messenger birds during the conflict.

Echo editor, John Szymanski, who was at the service said: “It was a very evocative service.

“It is important for remember those who lost their lives in this conflict, and the part Sunderland played in the war effort.”

The service will be followed by a candlelit vigil with prayer and reflection at the Minster at 10pm.

The vigil will see the gradual extinguishing of candles, with the final light extinguished at 11pm – the exact time that Britain joined the Great War.

It is part of the Lights Out event, where all members of the public are being encouraged to take part at home – switching off their lights and lighting a candle at 10pm then snuffing it out at 11pm.

A commemoration service was also held in Hetton today, and a further service is scheduled for Holy Trinity Church in Sunderland’s East End on Sunday.