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tv   WW1 Centenary  BBC News  December 31, 2018 9:30pm-10:00pm GMT

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this is bbc world news, the headlines. rescue teams in the russian city of magnitogorsk are searching the rubble for survivors after a gas explosion devastated an apartment block. at least four people are dead — up to 35 are missing the un says food aid in yemen — on which millions of people depend — is being stolen and illegally sold in rebel controlled areas leaving thousands hungry. us democratic senator elizabeth warren says she could be in the running for the presidency in 2020. she's established an exploratory committee which will allow her to start fund raising and organising support. and celebrations have been taking place to welcome in the new year — 2019. sydney was one of the first cities to mark the event now, as we near the end of 2018, events to mark 100 years since the end of world war one have come to a close. for this special programme the bbc‘s robert hall has been finding out how people across britain commemorated those who fought and
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died a century ago. last month, europe marked the end of the terrible conflict. the first world war cost millions of lives and ruined millions more. a century on from the armistice, this generation paused to remember tragedies both global and personal. you just cannot believe what man can do to man. i am known in the village as 'poppy lady' now. this is the imperial war museum in london.
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today with sister sites around the uk, it reflects world conflict across the generations. the museum was founded back in 1917 to tell the story of the first world war. last month the duchess of cambridge was here to see a cascade of poppies marking british and commonwealth lives lost. around britain the centenary of the armistice brought thousands more events in cities, towns, villages and even on our beaches. the film director danny boyle who masterminded the 2012 olympic opening ceremony in london led an initiative to create sand portraits of soldiers lost on the battlefields. sean peel from bbc look east watched one project unfolding at brancaster in norfolk. a crisp autumn afternoon on brancaster beach, tide out, bright sunshine lighting the scene as families and walkers enjoyed just being together,
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a perfect sunday to remember those no longer here. with the wet sand providing a canvas, work began to create a portrait of a man who died in the great war. there and gone like the tide, never to return to these shores. they're creating an image of driver stephen hewitt. he was born in halvergate in norfolk and died in 1916 aged 37. luckily sand is quite flexible, so you can always sort of cover over a little bit if it's not working. but we wanted to be careful, we worked in pairs to keep checking we were doing it right, and i think we were really pleased with the end result. stephen hewitt was a driver in the field artillery looking after the horses used to take the guns into battle. he was fighting the bulgarians in greece, but one day out riding he was attacked by a pack of wolves and died of his injuries. for amelia 0rd, it was an emotional day. stephen hewitt was her great grandad. she only heard this was happening
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two days before, a chance glance at a piece in a newspaper so she drove here from newcastle. very emotional, i've cried all the way on the journey down here. i always find remembrance sunday emotional, and i think it is because i am interested in our family history and today is much more. we made sure we stopped at 11 o'clock to do a two—minute silence, and yes, it has been tugging at the heartstrings all morning, we will be here until it is dark. "the century's tides, charting their bitter psalms cannot heal it. " not the war to end all wars, death's birthing place." as the light faded a poem was recited, pages of the sea by the poet laureate carol ann duffy. "history might as well be water, chastising this shore. for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice. " at the going down of the day at brancaster, those who came
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to remember left before nightfall, leaving the incoming tide to take driver stephen hewitt into its arms. the armistice commemorations have centred on lives lost in combat. but as gerry jackson from bbc look north discovered, among the graves of those killed during four years of bloodhsed are others, of men who died after the fighting stopped. our first world war dead lie in hundreds of commonwealth cemeteries on the battlefields of europe, the middle east and africa. but more than 130,000 of them died in the uk. this is sunderland. as the leaves fell in 1918, many relatives must have thought their loved ones had made it through the worst. private robert reveley is wounded in france in mid—october,
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and is invalided back to a hospital in the midlands where he dies on the 10th of november. it is all but certain that his wife kate, in roker, would have received a telegram on armistice day, perhaps as the church bells were ringing and people were in the streets celebrating. 0n the 12th, she writes to his regiment, asking for the return of his personal belongings. she says: "i shall be very grateful if you will oblige me in this matter. it may seem a small thing to ask for, but it means a lot to me." andrew neil had been blinded in the war. he died six months after the armistice and should have had a military headstone. for nearly a century he lay in an unmarked grave. the problem was that his death certificate said jacksonian epilepsy, but it was not attributing that to war injuries. we knew that he died as a result of the great war.
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then sometime later we got his pension disability card. and this is it. same cause of death, but in small letters, "due to active service." you know, the man gave his eyes and his life for his country, and now he has got something back to recognise that. my mum and my aunties said my grandad was blinded in the first world war. never knew anything else. to see the stone now, especially when you drive up the road and it gleams, it is just fantastic. sergeant neil's story is one of many researched by the northumbria world war i commemoration project, a seven year community volunteer remembrance endeavour. john youll from county durham had won the victoria cross in the italian alps in the summer of 1918. he was killed four days before the fighting ended there in october. news of his death only reached his family on armistice day. you can't help wondering what these
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people would have become, what they would have gone on to do. collectively they made a sacrifice which we can scarcely imagine today. and surely for that at least, we should remain grateful. this anniversary perhaps more than any other has drawn us into our own family history. 80—year—old andrew sturt from surrey had never visited the battlefields, but he wanted to find the graves of three uncles who still lie on the western front. bbc south today went with him. andrew and his son richard are making a specialjourney. aged 80, andrew sees this as his last chance to visit the graves of his three uncles, who all died fighting in france. he has never made this trip before. they head to noyon cemetery in the north of france.
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we are getting close to the british section now. where your uncle harold lies. andrew's father edwin would have found these visits too painful to make. edwin had answered the call to fight for king and country, as had five of his brothers. 0rdinary country lads from chobham village in surrey. against the odds, all six were still alive four years later. but in the final year of the war, that would change. it is just frightening. you just cannot believe what man can do to man. harold was the first brother to die. he was a lorry driver for the army service corps, delivering supplies to the frontline. one day he drove over an unexploded shell and died instantly. very sad, isn't it.
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aged 28. yeah. he was the oldest of the three who died. he lived to almost the end of the war. then he and his two brothers died in very quick succession. carrying on theirjourney, the next grave is especially poignant. andrew's uncle reginald is buried here. of all the brothers, he was particularly close to andrew's own father. my father has written a letter to his uncle. "you were so cruelly taken from the family by that sniper‘s bullet, on your first day of active service." both: we will remember you. there is one more cemetery to visit — the grave of herbert. just two months before the war would finally
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come to an end, herbert was killed, aged 19. it was his sacrifice which broke your grandmother's heart. that was the final straw, undoubtedly. in the last year of the war, the sturts had lost three sons in the space of six months. tragic, but not unusual. many families had been robbed of their young men, a lost generation who had made the ultimate sacrifice. the sturt brothers were part of what was dubbed the "lost generation". small communities were hardest hit, fighting to survive without the young men who had marched off to war. as jackie 0'brien from reporting scotland discovered, even those who returned faced a harsh future. the cameron highlanders left the north of scotland in their droves. full of youth and hope that theirjob
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would be done by christmas. but many of them didn't return, and it later emerged that the number of highland servicemen killed in action more than doubled the national average. the loss of young men was catastrophic. the work on the croft, crofting and fishing are both activities that require fit, strong young men. and a lot of them just weren't there. so the work on the crofts had to be done quite often by old men and women. the sense of gloom that pervaded the whole community must have been palpable. donald angus shaw was too young to fight at first, but he defied his parents and left his family croft near portree as soon as he turned 16. he died at arras on the western front a year later. one of a total of 600 skye men lost to the
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island community. just a lost generation really. many of them had married young, and some young mothers were widowed very young, and they had to bring up the children on their own, which was not easy. because there were no cars in those days, and they had to walk everywhere. sport suffered too, so many young north shinty players fought and fell together, that local clubs struggled to produce teams after 1918. beauly‘s camanachd cup hero donald paterson died with his brother at the battle of festubert. but his pipes, which were recovered with a manuscript, still play the tune he wrote while under fire in france. his mother obviously grief stricken at losing two sons out of three, just put his belongings away,
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and no one had really looked inside the pipe box, but the old bag cover had traces of blood on it, and there was a tune in the box that he had written for the beauly shinty club back in the trenches, and it had not seen the light of day until, this was about 1980. for some of those who did survive the trenches, a new struggle awaited them at home, after croft land a promise to the highlander heroes was not being handed over. some occupied the ground illegally, insisting that after taking on the germans and their machine—guns, a court order meant nothing to them. those who survived the horrors of the first world war never forgot the poppies which flowered in the mud of no man's land. today of course they are a symbol of remembrance. a team from inside out west visited a gloucestershire village where one woman had recruited an army to create the charfield yarm bomb of knitted flowers.
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my name is helen date and i started the charfield yarn bomb. it was just a simple post on the charfield village forums asking if anyone wanted to meet a few poppies to decorate our church. from there, it grew each month. more people wanting to help. it expanded to the church and the bus stop and the shop. now we are doing the whole 2—mile stretch right the way through charfield. we originally said we'd knit 3,000 poppies and somebody said that 7,777 men in the gloucester area lost their lives. so we decided to make a lot more.
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it hits everybody every year but this year being the 100th year since the end of the great war, it reminds us what was done for us. it brings back the reality of what happened and the sacrifice they made all those years ago. i'd say about 100, 120 local ladies. a lot of people who didn't know each other so it's just amazing the way the group has bonded. i live on my own and since i've been doing these poppies, i've met some really, really nice people, people i've seen in the village but hadn't talked to. i didn't know very many people at all in the village.
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go to the pub and meet a few people there but there are fewer women there and i've met some really nice ladies and had some really good conversations and fun times with them. each one is a life that was lost in the great war. each one of these, to me, is a person, not only that were lost but somebody made these poppies with love. you could put that in the church. yeah? yeah. put it on the vicar's head. this one? put it on his head. we need to make sure we have enough to get right the way through the village. i think there are going to be plenty of poppies. we've got 11,000. everything is going up now. it is a pinch—me moment where it is all happening. i love it, it's great.
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really good. it's taken a lot of work. yeah, it has really made me think about all the people that went off to war. that is just unbelievable. it couldn't look any better. right to the end. we've done it. ijust thank you all so much. yes, thank you. i am known in the village as the poppy lady now, that's my name. i haven't got a name, it's the poppy lady. poppies! as world war i recedes into history, how will we continue to remember the events that unfolded during those four costly years? well, one ambitious plan is to link existing footpath along the western front stretching from switzerland
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to the belgian coast and creating a journey of remembrance. as i discovered, that idea originated in letters from the front written by a young british officer. "there are graves scattered up and down. "the ground is so pitted and scarred and "torn with shells and tangled with wire." alexander gillespie was 26 when he wrote his last letters home in the weeks before his death, he began to plan a project that could now become his legacy. my great uncle was a prolific letter writer. countryfile presenter tom heap is alexander gillespie's great—nephew. well, he had this extraordinary leap of imagination when he was in the trenches amongst the fighting that he thought, when this is all over and peace comes, we should put a route along no—man‘s—land for people
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of all nations to come and walk along. the vision is a network of marked paths stretching from the swiss border to the belgian coast, tracing the trench lines of the western front. that's over 630 miles. that means negotiating with dozens of landowners and local councils but so far, reaction has been encouraging. translation: from the first moment i heard about the path, i immediately saw how it could work. i think we must widen the ways that we remember the past because if we don't do that, people will lose interest. this monument was sculpted by... high on vimy ridge stands this memorial to canadian troops who fought on the western front. here too gillespie's vision has received an enthusiastic welcome. i think it's a great opportunity.
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we have so many visitors who come on pilgrimage to visit and follow the path of their ancestors and this gives them an alternate route than taking highways and going around about, they can actually walk the western front, as their ancestors did. tom heap believes projects like this provide new ways of connecting with a conflict that is moving further and further into our distant history. this, to me, is exactly what my great uncle envisaged when he was in those trenches 103 years ago today. he died somewhere near here, we don't know exactly where, but to me it's quite sort of spine tingling, the thought that we are pretty much doing what he envisaged. "i would like to send every man, woman and child in western europe "on pilgrimage along that sacred road "so they might think and learn what war means "from the silent witnesses on either side." "a sentimental idea, perhaps,
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"but we might make the most beautiful road in all the world." reconciliation was a central theme of the centenary and our final story mirrors that. keeley donovan from inside out yorkshire and lincolnshire brought us the tale of two families from opposite sides of the conflict who laid old ghosts to rest. emile specht is a man on a mission, coming to grimsby from the south of france, searching the truth about his uncle who died in world war i. translation: our father didn't talk very much about his brother because he was so upset by his death. we were very young so he didn't really tell us anything. emile discovered his uncle drowned after his zeppelin crashed into the north sea. grimsby fishermen william martin came across the wrecked airship but refused to rescue the 16—man crew.
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ever since, skipper martin has been criticised for his decision to let the germans die. four years ago, we filmed skipper martin's great—grandson pat thompson at heinrich‘s grave in denmark, where the german's body was washed up. all i can do is offer my apologies to his family. emile, the airman‘s nephew, got in touch after seeing our film and he wants to meet pat. translation: when i found pat thompson had gone to my uncle to ask in his great—grandfather's name forforgiveness, i felt it was my duty to do something to show that we wanted to grant forgiveness on our father's behalf. for pat, it's going to be an emotional meeting. emile, this is pat.
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we have a past to put right of our families, right? yes. and i hope we can put that right while you are in england. welcome to england. the german airmen were still alive on the wreckage. they asked for help but skipper martin, who said his crew were heavily outnumbered, ordered the trawler to turn away. the lost airmen weren't the only casualties. skipper martin never recovered from the terrible decision he made that day. within a year, at the age of a5, he was dead. in grimsby, emile and pat are back together. they have a final duty to perform at skipper martin's grave. translation: captain william martin, i am standing by your great—grandson pat and i'm speaking to you. today, on behalf of our family, i come to bring you ourforgiveness. merci beaucoup.
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one of the most powerful exhibits marking the centenary came from the archives here at the imperial war museum. during the war, artillery observers used sound measurements to calculate the positions of german guns. they were marked on a chart on one of those charts records the moment leading up to the ceasefire. sound designers have used it to recreate what the soldiers on both front lines would have heard that day. so i will leave you with the sounds of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 100 years ago. goodbye. sustained gunfire and explosions gunfire and explosions abate
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silence if we see a fair change in the weather as we start 2019, it is all down to this cold front which is
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getting squashed by the area of high pressure, a weak front which is going to be introducing colour and colder conditions across the north of the uk but also breaking the cloud. for new year's day and promises to be much sunnier, particularly across scotland and a good part of england with probably staying quite cloudy towards wales and south—west england and maybe northern ireland. as the sunshine comes out on new year's day the temperatures tend to go down, it is going to be cold than it was on monday, temperatures are around between four and seven, milder with the cloudy skies in the south and south—west. the cloud breaks eventually, through the night, but we may see cloud coming in from the north sea, and for the guys stay clear this longest in the west we are looking at him widespread and sharp frost. in the countryside temperatures could get down to —6 in
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the coldest areas, even in towns and cities could be below freezing. like a christmas guests that has perhaps hung around among them than they should have done, with the jet in this large amplitude pattern, it is a pattern where the weather systems are deducted to move very much from west to east, so we're still stuck with the same kind of weather, don't expect it to change soon. for wednesday with the high pressure still around, some sunshine and a cold and frosty start, a0 patches but it is going to be dry and chilly, temperatures between three and seven and more sunshine reaching wales and south—west england. from wednesday into thursday, with still under the area of high pressure but at the same time the contents of the arctic empty out across eastern europe with spells of snow even into parts of greece and turkey whereas for us under the high—pressure on thursday it is going to be very
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similar, frost and four patches to start, dry are some sunshine and staying chilly, but notice the mildest areas are working to the north of scotland will an story it is up to nine, some rain to the north—west of scotland but for most dry and chilly. spot the difference heading into friday, the high—pressure is still there, still mainly dry and you will still have a risk of frost and fog but staying pretty chilly particularly for england and wales but signs of temperatures coming up a little bit in scotland as the weather tends to turn cloudy towards the end of the the weekend continues like that, high—pressure still there, more cloud from the eastern areas of scotla nd cloud from the eastern areas of scotland and england but with cloudy conditions temperatures are pivotal so conditions temperatures are pivotal so closer to normal for the time of year, i is between seven and nine. looking at the weather patterns into next week, the high—pressure probably declines and may tend to work a little bit south—westwards
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which does not sound exciting but it may have impact in that across the north of the uk it gives weather systems moving and off the atlantic bringing rain at times, probably mainly cloudy and as the wind picks up mainly cloudy and as the wind picks up next week temperatures probably between average and perhaps slightly above for the time of year. this is bbc news. the headlines at 10pm. the home secretary deploys more patrols and says there are no easy answers — as another group of migrants —— are found by border officials on the kent coast. i have made a decision today to redeploy two of the border force's largest vessels, known as cutters from abroad back to the uk. 39 people are arrested on suspicion of attempted murder — following a stabbing in west london.


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