A HUNDRED school children from across Wiltshire and Salisbury Cathedral visitors will experience a slice of life during the First World War at a two-day SSAFA Wiltshire event.
The event, which marks the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest battles of the ‘war to end all wars’, is being held on Friday and Saturday, October 6 and 7 October on the cathedral lawns.
SSAFA’s Passchendaele experience includes displays of WW1 memorabilia, original WW1 communications equipment, a replica WW1 Bristol Scout bi-plane and an Mk2 WW1 tank.
A large, reconstructed Trench system also allows visitors to re-live life on the front line.
Materials for the display have been loaned by the Royal Signals Museum, The Royal Artillery and Breaking Ground heritage are among others.
On the Friday only, a team from 18 Battery 32 Regiment Royal Artillery will bring the story up to date with a static drone display.
These unmanned aircraft provide imagery intelligence and live video feeds to a host of supported organisations, including various headquarters, infantry battlegroups and UK special forces and have seen action in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At the end of Friday, a special Passchendaele Evensong will be held in the cathedral at 5.30pm, reflecting on the three-month-long battle which cost the lives of 325,000 Allied soldiers and 260,000 Germans.
General Sir Michael Jackson, one of the most high profile British generals in since the Second World War and a former Chief of the General Staff, and Lt. Gen Sir Andrew Gregory, controller of SSAFA, will read the lessons, and music will be provided by the Salisbury City Band of the Royal British Legion.
Col Stephen Oxlade, who chairs the Wiltshire branch of SSAFA, said: “We hope that the Passchendaele experience will be both fascinating and thought-provoking, addressing the hard facts of WW1 and encouraging us to reflect on those who died or were injured in not just WW1 but in all subsequent wars, particularly in relation to our present day soldiers and their families.”