‘For Your Tomorrow We Gave Our Today’ – the words were more poignant than ever as thousands gathered across the Fylde coast to mark Remembrance Sunday 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.
In Blackpool, massive crowds – thought to be the biggest turn out in recent times – spilled onto the tramway and took up every vantage point around the war memorial alongside North Pier.
The blast of a single maroon echoed over the sea to herald the Last Post and two minute silence.
RevDan Connolly, of St John’s Parish Church, who led the service, said gratitude had to be paid to “all those who serve or have served.”
He added: “On this particular day we gather in gratitude and humility as we remember those who have given their lives in times of conflict, and recall the sharpness and cost of conflicts through recent times in Irag and Afghanistan.
“But our remembrance is wider than that, for it is right to remember the part played by all the people of our nations and Commonwealth who have lived through any part of war, for they share the conviction that oppression and tyranny must not prevail.”
Dignitaries including Blackpool Mayor Coun Val Haynes, the Bishop of Blackburn Julian Henderson, and Blackpool’s two MPs Gordon Marsden and Paul Maynard, were joined by veterans, cadets and serving soldiers for the service.
Rev Connolly added: “Let us give thanks for the example of courage and fortitude given to us by men and women who have endured war.
While wreaths of poppies were laid at the foot of the memorial, the voices of the Blackpool Aspire Academy Choir rang out across those standing solemnly to watch the ceremony, whose numbers included all ages.
Rev Henderson said 100 years after the outbreak of the First World War, people continued to question why there was so much suffering caused by war.
Jim Baker, 92, a Blackpool veteran of the D-Day Landings, said: “Blackpool always does the veterans proud but today has been even better than ever. There have been people here of all ages, and I noticed a lot of young people here this year which is a wonderful thing to see.”
Peter Elliott, 72, of Palatine Road, who served in the Royal Artillery, said: “The Blackpool people are the best in the world and we always have a good turnout for Remembrance Sunday, but today it has been really special to see so many people who have wanted to pay their respects.”
Following the ceremony, crowds lined the Promenade to cheer as veterans, cadets, members of the armed forces, representatives of the emergency services and young people from scouts groups marched from the Metropole Hotel to the town hall.
Crowds also attended commemorations at memorials across the Fylde including at St Annes, Lytham, Kirkham, Wesham and Fleetwood.
Members of the Royal British Legion proudly held their banners aloft to remember the losses suffered through all recent conflicts.
There were also services at Thornton, Garstang and Poulton, while last night saw the Northern Festival of Remembrance held at Marine Hall in Fleetwood.