Havant tree marks the Christmas Truce of 1914

‘UK needs to boost its budget for the military’

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FOR just a few days 100 years ago the fighting stopped.

British and German soldiers crossed the trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and they played football.

The Mayor of Havant Marjorie Smallcorn plants a tree in the grounds of the Public Service Plaza. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143659-079)

The Mayor of Havant Marjorie Smallcorn plants a tree in the grounds of the Public Service Plaza. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143659-079)

The Christmas Truce of 1914 would never be repeated, but the memory of that short-lived peace will live on in a tree that was planted in Havant yesterday.

The Scots pine tree is a symbol of peace and will be a place for anyone to remember loved ones lost in war.

The Mayor of Havant, Marjorie Smallcorn, helped to plant the tree in the grounds of the Public Service Plaza.

Around 50 people, including veterans and cadets, gathered to watch the tree planting ceremony.

The service included the playing of The Last Post and the singing of the national anthem.

Councillor Smallcorn, who read the poem A Carol From Flanders, said: ‘It’s going to be there in perpetuity. It will hopefully grow and promote peace.’

Among the crowd was Miles Gumblee, 16, who is a marine cadet from Purbrook.

His great-grandfather was a soldier and died shortly after the Christmas Truce.

He said: ‘It marks Christmas and marks the truce of World War One which is a special moment, especially because my great-grandfather was involved.

‘It brings back memories of the stories my grandad told me. It sheds light on what my great-grandad had to go through.’

The tree is just one of around 4,800 that have been planted by Havant Borough Tree Wardens over the past three years.

Under the government-backed Big Tree Plant, more than £18,000 has been spent on planting new trees.

Frances Jannaway, from Emsworth, volunteer co-ordinator, said: ‘Trees are an essential part of life.

‘If we didn’t have trees we wouldn’t be able to exist. Trees are getting felled at an alarming rate and we have a lot of diseases coming in, so it’s important we plant a lot of trees.’

Emsworth Councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray was instrumental in getting the tree planted. He said: ‘Everyone has some part of World War One in their DNA.’