They know about the Great War from their teachers and history books but the children of Long Wittenham Primary School did not forget — they paid their respects to the soldiers from the village who lost their lives.
On a warm day on November 11 at the memorial outside the school 50 children and their teachers joined councillors, church representatives and former servicemen to lay wreathes and small wooden crosses in tribute to those who died in the 1914-18 war and all conflicts past and present.
The children stuck 14 wooden crosses into the grass in front of the memorial to honour the servicemen who lost their lives. Five pupils read brief biographies of five men – Kenneth Bumpass, Thomas Hopkyns, Frederick and Frank Lamboll and Frank Weston.
The others who were killed or died from injuries were Percy Beckett, Charles Bidmead, Alex Chambers, Alan Eason, Vincent Essex, Harry Green, William Hallwright, William Hermon and Ernest Jeffries.
Wreathes were laid by the chairman of the parish council Steve Brown and Ruth McCreight on behalf of the Parochial Church Council. The Last Post was played by 12-year-old trumpeter Sasha Canter from the Old Vicarage. Sasha plays with the Oxford Youth Big Band and is a member of the Oxfordshire Schools Symphony Orchestra.
The ceremony was conducted by the Rev. David Haylett, associate priest with the Dorchester team ministry. He said: “Today is a special day when we remember those men and women who have died fighting for peace and justice so that today we can live in freedom.
“We pray for the peace of the world … for all who work for the reconciliation of those with different beliefs and practices and for people everywhere that all may know justice and freedom and live in security and peace. We pray for the homeless and refugees, for the hungry and for those who have lost their livelihood and security.”
After the ceremony the children went back to their lessons and the 35 villagers returned home. One-hundred-and-one years after the start of a catastrophic world war that cost the lives of millions of men and woman on all sides and which changed the world for ever.