Hundreds of people united in remembering the sacrifices and suffering their ancestors endured – as 100 years ago today families were torn apart by war.
Fresh-faced youngsters and battle-scarred veterans were among those who packed Sheffield Cathedral to its 600-strong capacity yesterday for a ‘touching’ service to mark the centenary of the beginning of World War One.
Cadets formed a guard of honours as families, friends, and veterans who have bravely served on the front line of battle arrived.
Schoolboy Daniel Kirk, aged 12, was there with his dad Jez. A century ago his great grandfather’s three brothers went into battle after Britain declared war on Germany – and never returned.
The Silverdale School pupil, of Nether Edge, said: “It is a good thing to remember the war because it was such a big thing.
“All of this would be completely different if people hadn’t made the sacrifices that they did.”
The youngest to witness the service was eight-month-old baby Missy, who was taken in her pram by mum Abby Rowan.
Abby, 23, of Manor Park, said: “The ceremony was lovely and the Cathedral was much busier than usual – it’s important to remember.”
As the service began, Bishop of Doncaster Peter Burrows told the congregation: “We are all connected to the war, either through our family history or because of the way it changed the history of our communities.”
Former Dean of Sheffield Rev Michael Sandgrove, now the Dean of Durham, then led the sermon.
A poem written by Sergeant John William Streets, who volunteered for the Sheffield City Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment, was also read. He was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
D-Day veteran Charlie Hill, 89, said: “It was very touching. I was thinking about what I’ve seen on the television about those who served, and how they suffered.
“We had it bad in the Second World War but I don’t think you can compare.”
Fellow war veteran George Hodgson was wearing a medal that belonged to his father – also named George – who served in the first conflict.
The 83-year-old, of Wisewood, said: “My father never talked about it.
“If you look at the footage it was very rough, they had more hardship and had to dig their own trenches.”
With them was Rosemary Querrant who laid small crosses in honour of the animals who played their part in the conflict.
She also paid tribute to her great uncle Frank Glasby – the 23-year-old from Sheffield died in 1916 after becoming one of the first to volunteer.
Rosemary, 73, of Rotherham, said:“If we don’t do anything we are not going to remember and it will just die.
“Our culture has changed so much, it’s the least we can do to be here today.”
Other centenary events include a community singalong and candlelit vigil from 9.30pm tonight in the Victoria Centre, Stafford Road, Norfolk Park. People are also turning lights out and using candles instead from 10pm to 11pm for the Lights Out initiative.