German and British children will come together this weekend to remember the victims of the First World War – including those killed in aerial attacks. The annual Anglo-German Service of Remembrance and Reconciliation is organised with the support of the Royal British Legion's City of Wolverhampton Central Branch and the Mayor of Wolverhampton and involves students from the High Arcal School in Sedgley and its partner school, the Academy of English in Oldenburg, Germany.
The service will take place at the Cannock Chase German War Cemetery on Sunday 9 October 2016 at 10.45am, and is the third of its kind bringing together German and British school children in an act of remembrance and reconciliation between the two countries.
Representing the city, Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Barry Findlay will be in attendance together with other civic and political dignitaries. The event focuses on the role of air warfare in the First World War, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Zeppelin balloon attacks on Potters Bar, near London, in October 1916, which saw a number of civilian fatalities and the deaths of the German air crews.
Mayor Councillor Findlay said: "This service of remembrance and reconciliation is a very important annual event which will help ensure that today's young people never forget the sacrifices our ancestors made in what were terribly dark times in the history of both our nations."
Dr John Goodyear, Director of Studies of the Academy of English in Germany and organiser of the services, said: “Air warfare is a lesser known aspect of the First World War and this service aims to tell the young people from both Germany and Britain those personal stories of the pilots in the air and those civilians who were affected on the ground.”
Chairman of the Royal British Legion's City of Wolverhampton Central Branch Lyndon Purnell said: "The youngsters’ contribution forms the centrepiece of the ceremony. The students are completely integrated into the service by marching on with the standard bearers, laying wreaths on behalf of their local communities and also performing in English and German.”
Deputy Headteacher of the High Arcal School, Sukhjot Dhami, said: "The annual visits to each other’s schools have done so much to raise awareness of the similarities between Germany and Britain, creating strong bonds of friendship that our students will carry with them through their school life and beyond."
Cannock Chase German War Cemetery, the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom, contains almost 5,000 graves of German personnel from both the First and Second World War. It is also the final resting place of the German zeppelin balloon pilots, which will be the focal point of the ceremony.