‘Swathe of sound’ will mark 100 years since end of WWI

Soldiers of a Highland regiment keep a look-out for the enemy in a trench in 1915. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Soldiers of a Highland regiment keep a look-out for the enemy in a trench in 1915. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Pipers will play, beacons will be lit and church bells will ring in all corners of the UK and around the world in tribute to the First World War fallen 100 years after the bloody conflict ended.

Battle’s Over, described as a nation’s tribute, has been in the planning for four years and will see hundreds of locally-organised events mark the centenary of the Armistice on 11 November.

Pageant-master Bruno Peek, 67, who co-ordinated the events, explained that they take their name from the tune that was traditionally played on pipes by the Scottish regiments at the end of a battle, called When The Battle’s O’er.

More than 1,300 pipers around the world will play the tune at 6am on the day, from village greens and in high streets to a lone piper in front of the Tomb Of The Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey in London.

The retreat march told a soldier to return to his company to answer to his name at roll call. It was composed by Pipe Major William Robb (1863-1909) of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and quickly established itself in the pipers’ repertoire between the Boer War and Great War.

Andy Stewart, the Scottish singer, put lyrics to the tune in 1961 with the chorus: “March no more my soldier laddie; There is peace where there once was war. Sleep in peace my soldier laddie; Sleep in peace, now the battle’s o’er.”

All this will happen in local time and there will be a “swathe of sound across the world” starting in New Zealand, Mr Peek said.

The next element of the tribute will not be until the evening so as not to “interfere” with Remembrance Sunday.

More than 1,000 buglers will play The Last Post at individual First World War beacon sites at 6.55pm, and the beacons will be lit at 7pm to signify the light that came out of the darkness of war.

More than 140 town criers will then undertake A Cry For Peace Around The World at 7:05pm, and more than 1,000 churches will ring their bells as a finale to the day.

“It’s going to pay tribute to the millions who either died or returned home dreadfully wounded during or after the war finished on November 11, 1918,” said Mr Peek, a former welder.

“I wanted to put together an international project that was led by the people of the world, not by governments or organisations but real community-based commemorations, because as we know so many soldiers that died came from local communities, small towns and parishes, not just in the UK but other countries around the world.”

Mr Peek said he has worked with town and parish councils and organisations around the world, sending emails from his home in Gorleston-on-Sea near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, to bring his vision for a tribute to life.

The cry for peace will be led by a Chelsea Pensioner from the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

In Ypres in Belgium, where five battles were fought, four town criers will undertake the cry together in the market square in French, German, Dutch and English.