Thursday, 8 June 2017

Guernsey Light Infantry

I was having a cup of coffee in the garden on Sunday morning before going for a walk, the radio was on quietly in the kitchen, when one of the neighbours started up with some load music. 
Except on second thoughts, I don't think any of my neighbours are marching band fans.......(well I am, I love them, I blame my Dad!)....then I remembered that the island was commemorating the departure of the Guernsey Light Infantry to fight in the Great War exactly one hundred years ago. 
So we hurried out to catch up with them as they were heading down Fountain St. 

The parade was following their original route from Fort George, down through Trinity Square to Town Church and through town to the White Rock where there was a service of remembrance.
It seems that the parade was split into two parts, so you could properly hear the bands.
The first part featuring soldiers, veterans and a military band.
The second part (which we had caught up with) was the band of the Boys Brigade, re-enactors in authentic WW1 uniform and local school children,
many whose great, great, great grandfathers had been among the original soldiers. 
It was incredibly moving, especially as they rounded into Church Square,
the watching crowds started clapping.
Eyes were definitely moist, glad I had my sunglasses....

Think it was made even more moving for me as on Saturday I had been asked a question in the Gallery that really made me think about the human cost of WW1.
As this gentleman had walked up to St James he had passed the war memorial at the top of Smith Street. This was originally put up for WW1 and other wars have since been added. 
His question was this
There are an awful lot of names on your memorial, when I have visited ones in the UK ,they often list all who went to fight and then put a star next to those who didn't come home.  Is that the case for yours, or are those names all who died?  Because that seems an awful lot for a small island.   

Well I was pretty sure I knew the answer, but I did double check with
The Fountain of All Knowledge, The Priaulx Library, and they confirmed what I thought.
Those four panels on the back wall are all those who died.
Its very humbling when you stop to have a proper look at it. 
They fought at Passchendaele, Cambrai and Lys.

Three hundred and twenty seven young men were killed.

Their moto was Diex Aix - God Help Us.
This derives from the battle cry used by the Duke of Normandy 1,000 years earlier.
Such brave men.


  1. Caro you have written another thought provoking post. I have been reading "The Guns of August" about the first world war. Such a waste of life. I have taken a long time reading it as I have to stop because it is so draining on the emotions. It's good that you got to join in the parade/reenactment. There are connections to the past in such things. And thank you for visiting my blog.

  2. Thank you,
    I do find history really fascinating, especially when you can walk in their footsteps. I haven't read that book, so will put it on my reading list, it sounds very interesting. I had the same problem with a book of short stories written during and after the Great War, it was so horrific and traumatic to read, that I just couldn't finish it. So much worse than watching it on film because you can hear what people are thinking....
    Lovely to hear from you, Caro