On August 5 1914 the first shot at sea of the First World War was fired and exactly 104 years later a Lamplight of Peace commemorating the work of the Great War tunnellers and the millions of soldiers, sailors and merchant seamen that lost their lives will embark on its own 100-day journey ending on Remembrance Sunday on 11 November. Its first call is at The National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
The specially-commissioned Lamplight of Peace is an original Bonnetted Clanny (Meusler) lamp that would have been used by miners in British coalfields and subsequently in the tunnels.
The event is part of Battle's Over – A Nation's Tribute being organised by international Pageantmaster Bruno Peek LVO OBE OPR to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War on 11th November 1918.
The lamp, measures two feet square at its base and is one and a half feet tall. The four sides its wooden base display strands from German and British barbed wire of the period, coal from the last British major coal mine, shards of trench post and soil from a First World War trench near Ypres, ballast from the railway line where the Armistice was signed in Compiegne, France and a replica of a Victoria Cross.
It will be lit at a ceremony at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, Westminster Abbey, at 18:20hrs on August 4 2018. On completion of the lighting ceremony, the Lamp will be passed into the care of Warrant Officer Paul Jackson RN and the Chaplain of the Fleet – Rev Martin Gough QHC.
WO1 Jackson and two Able Seamen will escort the lamp to arrive by sea at 1100 at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on the Queen's Harbour Master's launch Solent Spirit. The lamp will be escorted by the National Standards of the Royal Naval Association (RNA) and the Merchant Navy Association and an honour guard of Naval Standards and Veterans to the Jutland 100 exhibition; when a short service of dedication will be led by the Chaplain of the Fleet. The lamp will be passed into the care of The National Museum of the Royal Navy and will be placed next to the four-inch gun from HMS Lance, which fired the first shot at sea of the First World War, 104 years to the day since that fateful shot.
Battle’s Over – A Nation’s Tribute organiser Bruno Peek said: “The tunnellers are some of the great unsung heroes of the Great War. They fought their war underground, constantly surrounded by darkness and danger as they dug explosive-packed tunnels beneath enemy lines. Their extraordinary bravery has largely been forgotten but I hope that this event will serve to shed some light in the work they undertook in unimaginable conditions”.
Paul Quinn OBE, Captain RN (Rtd), General Secretary, Royal Naval Association said: "The Royal Naval Association is proud to assume responsibility for the Lamplight of Peace for the first 25 days in the final 100 days before the Centenary of the Armistice on Remembrance Sunday, on behalf of the Royal Navy. It is hoped that many thousands of visitors to the Historic Dockyard will have a chance to see the Lamplight of Peace and reflect on the sacrifice of those in the naval service during the First World War. Visitors will be able to learn about the Battle of Jutland at the dedicated exhibition, visit HMS M33 which saw action at Gallipoli – and see the many artefacts that the museum cares for.”
Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of The National Museum of the Royal Navy said: “We are honoured to be the first call for the Lamplight of Peace and urge all our visitors to reflect on the incredible bravery of those who fought in the First World War.
As a museum we have worked incredibly hard to mark the centenary of the Great War. It was important to demonstrate that far from being a war fought in France and in the trenches, the First World War was fought at sea and this had a huge influence on its outcome.
Our investment in the navy story during the First World War stands at £23,150,000 nationally and includes the opening, in Portsmouth, of the HMS galleries featuring the Racing to War exhibition; Gallipoli veteran HMS M.33; a blockbuster exhibition 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War; an exhibition highlighting the centenary of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) and, in Belfast, the opening of HMS Caroline, which featured as one of just three national commemorative events to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland.”