The Bible and World War One

Church

Of the 200 men from Ledbury, in Herefordshire, who fought in World War One, 85 did not return.

Local historian, Jenny Harrison, says: ‘It was absolutely devastating. With those sorts of numbers, the whole town and the rural areas around it were affected.’

People were hit first by the devastating loss of life in World War One and then more lives were lost to the flu epidemic. Just three years after the war ended, the town’s population had plummeted from 3,400 to just 1,600 people.  It’s a story repeated across the country.

Jenny Harrison says that in the midst of this loss and grief, it was essential that the community remembered its dead.

‘They wanted to remember the young men’, she says, ‘both with the war memorial and by creating a memorial playing field where the young people could play.

‘Remembering was so important for them because of the sacrifice that they made, because members of families had been left behind,’

Immediately after Armistice Day in 1918, Ledbury townsfolk began planning it’s war memorial. It was completed two years later in 1920.

Now marking both wars, it bears images of an angel and members of the Army, Navy and RAF who served and died. People chose the verse: ‘Greater love hath no man than this’ (John 15:13) to sum up their feelings.

Jenny Harrison says: ‘It was very important to have a Bible verse because religion was important to the population. The majority of people would have gone to a place of worship. The thinking was that they had died heroes.’

This Remembrance Sunday Ledbury town centre will once again be packed as locals contemplate the 85 young men who died 100 years ago. ‘It’s still important to remember,’ says Jenny. 

Listen to Dr Michael Snape talk about the Bible and Remembrance

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