Remembrance Day 2018: Message of peace - from a telephone box in Germany to Skegness

Young people reading the names of the fallen in Skegness and bad Gandersheim. ANL-180211-111442001
Young people reading the names of the fallen in Skegness and bad Gandersheim. ANL-180211-111442001

One hundred and 86 brave souls will send out a special message of peace on the 100th anniversary of the First World War - from a British telephone box in Germany.

At the going down of the sun, what appears to be droplets of blood will be reflected through a red pane of glass across a list of names of young soldiers from Skegness and its German twin Bad Gandersheim who lost their lives between 1914-18.

Artist John Byford inside the telepohone box where the names of the fallen are displayed. ANL-180211-111526001

Artist John Byford inside the telepohone box where the names of the fallen are displayed. ANL-180211-111526001

The names - in alphabetical order - form part of an adaption of the Two Voices exhibit in the market square, originally designed in yellow by Skegness artist and town councillor John Byford to promote the Lincolnshire coast.

Now known as The Box, it has been painted white to represent peace and features the losses of both nations in WW1 - marking a time to reflect and also to celebrate the relationship built over nearly 40 years between the two towns.

Mayor of Skegness Coun Sid Dennis is to fly out to Bad Gandersheim the day after attending the Remembrance Day parade in Skegness to join the Mayor of Bad Gandersteim, Franziska Schwarz, in a special ceremony in which they will read out the names on the list.

Among the names is John William Dennis, the son of Coun Dennis’ grandfather’s brother. “I feel very honoured to be making this trip and especially because of the family links,” said Coun Dennis.

‘I’ve been asked why do it like this but my answer is ‘why not’?’

‘I’ve been asked why do it like this but my answer is ‘why not’?’

“Both of our towns suffered losses and this celebrates peace going forward.

“It means a lot to me and my wife to do this, and it will be good for both of our towns.”

Also making the trip to Bad Gandersheim will be the artist Coun Byford, who said the new exhibit was already gaining a lot of interest.

“When I first had this idea of the Two Voices exhibit, with it being a telephone box, it seemed a perfect tool from which to be sending out a message of peace.

John Byford in Bad Gandersheim  market sqaure painting the telephone white as a symbol of peace. ANL-180211-111331001

John Byford in Bad Gandersheim market sqaure painting the telephone white as a symbol of peace. ANL-180211-111331001

“I’ve been asked why do it like this, but my answer is ‘why not?’. Telephone boxes have always been a communication tool and this one is in a beautiful historic market square near the cathedral, on the official tourist trail, and a wi-fi hotspot.

“Had it been in a museum, nowhere near as many people would see it.”

John said his biggest challenge was how to display the names of the Skegness and Bad Gandersheim fallen.

“I thought a lot about how to display the names so as the meaning was not overshadowed by how many young soldiers from each town had died,” he said.

Signatures on the 'visitor's book' at the side of the telephone box. ANL-180211-111629001

Signatures on the 'visitor's book' at the side of the telephone box. ANL-180211-111629001

“The result sees Albert’s side by side with Hardy’s and Schüttes, Eric’s next to Erich’s and Frederick next to Friedrichs.

“They were all young men who were sent to their deaths and I wanted to reflect this.”

John said he was particularly proud of the reaction from the young. “When I went on a trip to the Somme to do some research for this, I saw a group of English students crying and hugging each other because what they saw was making history real.

“It really moved me, and so I was delighted to see The Box has already attracted a lot of interest from the young.”

Helping to organise the ceremony in Bad Gandersheim has been Coun Ingrid Lohmann, who is also very active with the twinning association.

“The anniversary of the end of the First World War raises a lot of emotions, and at the ceremony we will rememember the suffering of both nations,” she said.

The names of the fallen from Skegness and Bad Gandersheim has attracted interested from all ages. ANL-180211-111509001

The names of the fallen from Skegness and Bad Gandersheim has attracted interested from all ages. ANL-180211-111509001

“People walking by The Box have reacted very positively. This Remembrance Day we have another chance to make people aware.”

A second display containing the names will also be featured in Hildreds Shopping Centre in Skegness.