World War I service at Manchester Cathedral

Aug 5, 2014
Category: General

The service began with the sound of rapid machine gunfire and the deafening noise of cannon shells exploding followed by 24 men wearing the uniforms of WW1 soldiers marching into the cathedral.  A Drumhead, created by the drums of the Manchester Regiment, festooned in poppy leaves, was the centre piece of an evocative service.

The Lord-Lieutenant read Pericles' Funeral Oration and Mr Norman Stoller read Anthem for a Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen. Cadet Sergeant Major Alex Barrett-Chapman read from St John's gospel.

Christopher Stokes, the Cathedral Organist and Master of the Choristers, created a choir for the occasion who sang beautiful anthems as well as leading the congregation in renditions of 'Keep the Home Fires Burning' and It's a long way to Tipperary''.


Prayers were led by representatives from the Army Cadet Force, the Air Training Corp, The Sea Cadets, St John Ambulance and the Red Cross.

The sermon was preached by the Bishop of Manchester, the Right Reverend David Walker.  The Bishop spoke movingly about his family and his own great grandfather who served during the conflict.  Immediately before praying for God's blessing on the congregation Bishop David said: '100 years ago, this was the day before the outbreak of war when thousands of men made their way to London and other points of embarkation towards an uncertain future. It was a day of fear, pride and a precursor to huge numbers of deaths for this country and for many others; may such conflict never again find its place in history' - we pray that will be the case.

The Lord-Lieutenant said: this was a most appropriate service to recall the thousands of men who left our county 100 years ago to fight on a foreign shore, many never to return. We owe them, and indeed all who have fought to defend freedom and democracy over the years since that conflict, a great debt of gratitude and one we can never truly repay.'

The photograph above shows one of the volunteers dressed in WW1 uniform lighting one of the ten candles around the drumhead; a cadet waits to place a scroll bearing the name of one of the ten boroughs or cities of the county.

The Lord-Lieutenant would like to thank all who took part in the service and those who joined him in the cathedral for what was a momentous occasion.

The photographs are used with the kind permission of Mr Sean Wilton and the Manchester Evening News