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The Exning Enlistment Re-enactment was a way of commemorating World War One which honoured all those men who served, many of whom returned damaged in body or mind; a way of involving the village and build a sense of community; and provided an opportunity for people to both remember and understand, in a small part, what it was like to enlist in the First World War, or see one’s loved ones going away.


Research


Prior to the event we tried to identify,as far as possible, the homes of all the men of Exning who served in World War 1 as recorded on the “Rolls of Honour” in St Martin’s Church and the War memorial.


The Walk

On Saturday November 8 nearly a hundred people walked from They included:


Their ages ranged from 8 to 80 plus, and being part of the racing area, included our own war horse, “Walter” who was ridden from the Laceys Lane home of Private John Davis lived who worked at a racing establishment and joined the Army Veterinary Corps to work with horses. “Walter” walked in the name of all those horses who served in the war.


Their destination was Exning Primary School in Oxford Street where they went to the “Enlistment Room” to sign their names against the names of the men they were honouring in a specially prepared book. They each received a small packet of poppy seeds (donated by Fothergills) to plant.


The “March Off”

They were then “drilled” into ranks before marching off, led by “Walter”, to “War”.


“The War”

Those who came to support them were then invited into the school hall to see an audio/visual presentation of WW1 newsreels and special presentations prepared by the pupils,


“The Welcome Home”


They went back to the playground to welcome the “troops” home.

Those who had gone to war returned in 4 groups with large poppies indicating:

those who were unscathed;

those who were damaged in mind;

those who were physically wounded; and

those who did not return.

The last group stood by an emplacement of sandbags and barbed wire and laid 80 poppy crosses, each with the name of a man who had made the ultimate sacrifice. The Last Post was played.


The Museum

The school had prepared a museum of WW1 memorabilia donated for the day by villagers who wanted to share precious items from their family members who served.

Refreshments were served


Report on the event


A display box in St Martin’s Church contains:

The “Enlistment Book” signed by 100+ “walkers”

A copy of Tony Pringle’s Book “Exning Remembers”

A book of photos of the Re-enactment recording events on the day

Press cuttings of coverage of the event

(To arrange to see it contact John Saville on 01638-604246)



Financial support was given by Exning Parish Council and Forest Heath District Council.


For more on each of the above (including photos) click on the links above


For links to other World War One events in Exning click here

Exning Enlistment Re-enactment – November 8, 2014


Photos provided by:

Exning School, Lily Taylor, Colin Short, Juliet Thomason, Paul Ravenscroft & John Saville