MARLOW stood united in remembrance on Monday night in a huge show of solidarity to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
Royal British Legion branch chairman Shaun Murphy praised the support of residents, organisations, groups and clubs who assembled at the war memorial on the Causeway last night for a candlelit vigil.
A service was held in support of the Lights Out campaign, which asked people to turn out all but a single light or candle from 10pm until 11pm to mark the moment the world was rocked by war.
Around 400 people held lights to echo the words of Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey spoken on the eve of Britain’s descent into war when he said: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time."
Mr Murphy said: “You never really know how it will go but overall I thought it went very well indeed, I was very impressed.
“We made 200 service sheets and people had to share so there may have been as many as 400 people there.
“I have to thank the George and Dragon (pub opposite the memorial) who took the lights out theme right to heart which meant we were left with just the street lights and the candles people had brought with them.
“There were lots of other events on for the commemorations and 10pm is not the sociable time to come out, but for so many people to make the effort was marvellous.
“We had a silence at the end and I thought it was very effective. Marlow are a good bunch and remembrance is always so overwhelmingly supported here.”
The emotional service was attended by veterans and Royal British Legion members, the 1811 Air Training Squadron, church leaders, the fire service, the scouts, Rotary club members and Marlow Mayor Suzanne Brown among others.
A group of around 40 sea cadets from Sussex currently training at Longridge Activity Centre also came along to pay their respects.
A history of the lead-up to the devastating conflict and Britian’s declaration of war of Germany on August 4, 1914, was solemnly recounted.
Legion and Rotary members read poems focusing on the outbreak of war and deployment to the front line, featuring verse from Wilfred Owen, Philip Larkin and Laurence Binyon’s ‘To the Fallen’, part of which acts as a motto for the RBL.
Dave Bull, rector at All Saints Church, led prayers with other church leaders from across the town, which was plunged into darkness as homes as businesses shone a solitary light as a mark of remembrance and respect.
And a single lantern was placed by Mayor Brown alongside a single wreath, with the single flame flickering in the near darkness.
She said: “It was a lovely service, it was just right and very emotional. So many people made an effort to bring candles and some had made them themselves.
“I expected it to be well supported as you just have to look at the Remembrance services in Marlow, it is very important to the town and the whole event was very poignant.
“When I walked back I could see houses with candles in their window and the town really has made a huge effort.
“I felt honoured, there aren’t many times you can see that, and to remember those from so long ago without whom we wouldn’t have enjoy the life we have today.”
It is the first of many events in Marlow to mark the centenary of the conflict, with town history group Marlow Remembers WWI planning a series of talks, services and gatherings in addition to Monday's vigil.
See the group's website www.marlowww1.org.uk for more details