Help us mark ‘Guernsey’s Finest Hour’ centenary

ON THE 99th anniversary of a First World War battle that left its mark on our island forever, campaigners have today confirmed that memorials to mark ‘Guernsey’s Finest Hour’ will definitely go ahead if funds are raised.

Ministry Of Information First World War Official Collection
Troops captured in a German communications trench near Havrincourt during the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917.(Photo by Lt. Ernest Brooks/IWM via Getty Images)

Lasting tributes to the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry regiment of the British Army, which fought in the now notorious Battle of Cambrai in 1917, will be created both at home and in France, say organisers The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Charitable Trust.

It is working to see dedicated focal points in memory of the 327 casualties and 667 wounded or missing from the 2,280 Guernseymen who set out to fight on the Western Front and has commissioned the special commemoration events.

The initiative, revealed last month and led by military historian Chris Oliver, together with Lt-Colonel Colin Vaudin, has now gained formal backing from officials in both Guernsey and France.

We can also announce that the Guernsey Press will be media partner for the scheme and that a multi-media campaign will be launched early in the new year to allow islanders to play their part in finally marking the regiment’s place in history forever.

‘A hundred years ago, back in November 1916, little did members of the RGLI know that just 12 months on they would be involved in the Battle of Cambrai,’ said Lt-Col Vaudin.

‘Yet these were local men who had been conscripted to fight at a stage in the Great War when, by then, people were well aware of the true risks and reality of the war after the tragedies of battles such as the Somme and Ypres.

‘At present, there is nothing on the site in France, nor is there anything here in their home to mark their heroic contribution to the battle.

‘This will change all that.

‘We want islanders to feel part of the idea – for these tributes to be what we would see as our “people’s memorials”.

‘Looking to the future, we want them to also serve as living tributes to mark the unit’s legacy, not only for this generation but for those to come.’

Around £20,000 is needed for both inscribed memorials.

Further information is available from www.lesemrais.com, by emailing Mr Oliver at chris@lesemrais.com or by calling him on 251683.

Comments for: "Help us mark ‘Guernsey’s Finest Hour’ centenary"

Sheila

Conscripted? I thought they volunteered.

As to a memorial there is a fine display at Castle Cornet where I first learned about this battle and the effect on Guernsey of losing so many men.

Disgruntled

Sheila, you are correct the men of the RGLI did volunteer.

Doe

Conscription was introduced in 1916 and the RGLI was formed from the Guernsey Militia, a territorial regiment, which by law could not be sent to war. In 1916 the States voted to change the law. Before this, there had already been a large contingent of volunteers from the island, they were sent, for the most part, to the Royal Irish Regiment and the Royal Irish Fusiliers.