At 11am on Sunday 11th November, ‘Carbrooke Remembered’, along with the many others around the world. The Lay Led Church Service began at 10.30, with the Act of Remembrance and laying of wreaths by the War Memorial, led by David Riley, with other members of the congregation taking part with prayers, readings, stories of relatives and the story of the ‘Carbrooke Poppies’. We were delighted that representatives from Watton Air Cadets, Girl Guides and Watton British Legion were able to join us at the very well-attended service, and which ended with a short medley of WW1 soldiers songs.

OnFriday Evening the Heritage Group organised a presentation by John Coppen, a member of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, explaining their work, with displays of historical documents relating to Carbrooke during war time. A couple of new Teddies (Private Tommy, Brylcream Brian and Jack Tar), joined the ‘Carbrooke Church Teddy Trail’.

With many others around the world, we had been preparing for the centenary commemoration of the ending of the Great War, by the production of knitted, crocheted or crafted poppies. During the summer poppy patterns had been shared around, although we didn’t think we would really get enough poppies to do anything significant; but by the autumn, poppy production was well under way by the whole community and others who had heard about it through word of mouth or social media and wanted to be involved.

We planned to attach the poppies to the church tower (at 99’ feet itwould be some feat!). We decided attaching them to strings and trailing them from the top of the tower, like streamers would be a different take on the usual ideas.

During October more and more poppies arrived and we began sewing them onto the strings. The school and playgroup were involved, with the children making felt poppies, and mini wreaths, which have been used to decorate the screen inside the church. We estimate that we have produced 2500 poppies, and whilst sewing them, noted the different styles and colours of red used. Some of the poppies are purple; – these signify the animals which suffered the same terrible conditions as the soldiers and were sacrificed in our wars. There are also some white poppies – our hope that one day there will be lasting peace.

At the beginning of November, the streamers were hoisted to the top of the tower, with the ends secured into the ground with wooden pegs, we are particularly pleased that one very long streamer reaches the war memorial. The original plan, to place a knitted poppy for each of the 27 men mentioned on the war memorial has also been achieved, and a floodlight casts a shadow of the Carbrooke soldier onto the tower by night.

We set out to create a tangible commemoration and opportunity to pay respect to our ancestors, family members, friends or neighbours and as recognition of the terrible waste of life &
atrocities endured in conflicts, which drive people apart. This activity on the other hand has bought communities across the country together. It has involved many Carbrooke people, and others further afield who may not normally meet or work together, and is in turn part of a larger, nationwide project, to remember, respect and hope for the future.

We plan to leave the displays in place until the end of November then all the poppies will be stored and used again in the future as part of our annual remembrance service, or for special vents. We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in preparations for the Carbrooke Remembrance Weekend; poppy makers, stitchers and fixers, flower arrangers, and servers of refreshments.