Video: Cleckheaton pays its respects to fallen WWI soldiers in Royal British Legion service

Dignitaries paid their respects at a poignant ceremony on the centenary of the first day of the First World War – a conflict in which 509 Spen Valley men lost their lives.

The Spenborough branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) organised the service at Cleckheaton’s Memorial Park on August 4, a day commemorated by evening services across the district.

WW1 memorial service in Cleckheatons Memorial Park. (D516K431)

WW1 memorial service in Cleckheatons Memorial Park. (D516K431)

Attendees included Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Gordon Tollefson, the Mayor of Kirklees Ken Smith, RBL county president Robert Mortimer, Lee Backhouse of the Coldstream Guards, councillors and townspeople.

Rev Brunel James said: “Today we are not celebrating the outbreak of the First World War but remembering together the last day of peace before the world was changed forever by unprecedented global conflict.”

Rev James and Rev Roger Smith conducted the service during which wreaths were laid, the Last Post played, a period of silence held and the Union Flag lowered to half mast.

Chairman of Spenborough’s RBL Eddie Morton said: “It is essential that we do not forget the contribution these people made on our behalf ,and it brings home to roost the war to end all wars.”

The crowd joined together in singing I Vow ToThee My Country, the National Anthem, hymns and reading the Lord’s Prayer.

Coun John Lawson (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) said: “I think Cleckheaton is very proud of its history and to celebrate today is important for the whole Spen area.”

The last man from Spenborough to die in the conflict was Pte George Blamires, 26, on November 7, 1918 – four days before the Armistice was signed. Many more died in the following years from wounds and the effects of gas.