‘Tommy’ signs on for duty in Woodhall Spa

Pupils from St Hugh's and St Andew's School stand behind 'Tommy'  at the unveiling of the WW1 memorial in Woodhall Spa last Friday
Pupils from St Hugh's and St Andew's School stand behind 'Tommy' at the unveiling of the WW1 memorial in Woodhall Spa last Friday

They spanned the generations - youngsters from two schools, Royal British Legion veterans, parish councillors and members of the public.

The fact they all came together in Woodhall Spa last Friday for the unveiling of a ‘Tommy’ silhouette somehow captured the whole spirt of ‘One Hundred Years of Remembrance.’

The parish council decided a few weeks ago to mark the centenary of the end of World War One by participating in the ‘There But Not There’ initiative by the charity called ‘Remembered.’

The council purchased a six foot ‘Tommy’ - a striking metal outline of of a WW1 soldier - and decided to site him next to the village war memorial.

The ‘Tommy’ looks directly at the memorial which contains the names of the fallen from Woodhall Spa in the two World Wars.

‘Tommy’ has been ‘anchored’ into the ground - he is going nowhere.

Parish Council chairman David Clarke said: “He is a permanent reminder of the sacrifice made by many from the village who gave their today for our tomorrow.

“It is important to have the two local schools represented because the three aims of the charity are ‘remember, educate and heal.’

Four pupils and staff from St Hugh’s and St Andrew’s School attended.

Not even the sound of a noisy motorcyclist could spoil a very poignant occasion.

Ollie, aged 10, from St Andrews, was one of the pupils.

After performing the unveiling of ‘Tommy’, he said: “I feel very proud - and very honoured.

“I’ve read about the First World War and I’ve also watched videos.

“All those people who died...they were very brave.

“That’s why we are here today.”

St Hugh’s head, Chris Ward said his school was ‘proud and honoured’ to take part in the unveiling.

Dave Mullenger, president of the Woodhall Spa Branch of the Royal British Legion, was clearly emotional as Tommy ‘took guard’ for the first time.

The sun came out, highlighting the metal frame.

Mr Mullenger said: “It is very fitting to see the children here today - and very fitting to see Tommy unveiled.

“We need to remember, and we haven’t remembered enough over the years.

“They have started teaching WW1 in schools again - and not before time.

“Today’s generation - and future generations - need to know what happened, the sacrifices so many people made.

“ Look around and ask yourself how many people here today lost members of their families in WW1.

“It’s only right we remember, and ‘Tommy’ is a fitting reminder of those sacrifices.”

Special thanks went toward district councillor Craig Leyland who contributed some of his community grant to enable the purchase to go ahead.

Some had baulked at the £750 cost.

Noticeably, they weren’t present.

The gathering didn’t last long, and the fact it happened just a 100 yards or so from Royal Square - home of the memorials to the Dambusters Squadron - seemed to add extra significance.

‘The Dambusters’ were, of course, involved in a different conflict to Tommy.

Their sacrifice, though, was no less important.

One village, two wars and three different generations....all united.