Hundreds gathered on the streets and by the town hall on Sunday as Rochdale welcomed the final stage of an historic re-enactment, 100 years on from when 1,000 soldiers had originally marched to the town from Todmorden at the beginning of World War One.
The march to Rochdale, arranged by Todmorden British Legion and supported by Rochdale Borough Council followed in the footsteps of that famous day in August 1914 which saw 1,000 soldiers from the 6th Battalion of Lancashire Fusiliers march from Todmorden to Rochdale before being sent to Egypt and on to the killing fields of Turkey.
Sunday’s commemorative march, following the 12 mile route originally taken, included Tod PALS, reserves from Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and Todmorden Community Band wearing First World War regalia.
Starting the march and attending the Rochdale ceremony was 84 year old Doris Sharphouse, daughter of one of the original Lancashire Fusiliers. She was joined by Robert Barker, grandson of Captain Barker, the second in command of the original soldiers from Todmorden. The parade received a hero’s welcome on arrival in Rochdale, where it was joined by another 200, comprising standard bearers, the Salvation Army Band, veterans associations and military cadets before heading to the cenotaph by the town hall for a public ceremony, short speeches, wreath laying and the last post. A one minutes silence was observed, followed by prayers.
Few came home alive or unscathed from the ‘Gallipoli campaign,’ one of the most bloody campaigns of World War One.
Council Leader Richard Farnell said:
“It has been a very moving day, with a wonderful march and ceremony. I was pleased to see so many coming out to show their support, not just in Rochdale but all along the twelve mile route. It is so important that we never forget the sacrifices made and days like this, culminating in such a poignant service by the Cenotaph, help us to remember.”
Acting Chief Executive Linda Fisher who also leads Armed Forces activities across Greater Manchester said:
“The link between the military and our community is stronger than ever this year. Today was about showing our appreciation to all those local soldiers and their families who paid the supreme sacrifice. It was a day of mixed emotions and the reception the march received was incredibly moving. It was a well organised community event and we were pleased to see so many local people supporting it.”
Rochdale was also one of the first councils in the country to sign the Armed Forces Community Covenant in November 2012, aimed at encouraging local communities to support services that promote and encourage activities that help integrate Armed Forces personnel back into civilian life. It also encourages authorities to work more closely to support those in service and their families, ensuring there is no disadvantage associated with serving in the Armed Forces.
For more details on other events being staged to commemorate the World War One Centenary visit www.rochdale.gov.uk/armedforces
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