The heart of over 100 Jersey soldiers who lost their lives during one of the Great War's bloodiest battles – represented in stone form – will tomorrow finally return to their island of birth.
That ‘heart’ is really a cylinder extracted at heart height from the Guillemont Memorial in the Somme, France – a Jersey-quarried piece of granite marking the deaths of Jerseymen that died in the Battle of the Somme.
Unveiled in 2016, it reads: “This stone commemorates the men of the Jersey Contingent, Royal Irish Rifles, who fought and died here in September 1916 and all from Jersey who served in the Great War. Their hearts, like the heart of this stone, lie in Jersey.”
In total, around 120 Jersey soldiers were killed in the fighting during the battle.
Pictured: The Heart of the Guillemont Memorial will be placed on the Royal Court steps close to where the Jersey Contingent formed up before being deployed.
The memorial’s ‘heart’ was removed in September in a ceremony attended by the Bailiff and Chief Minister, and will tomorrow finish its 325km journey back to the spot from which the Jersey soldiers firstset off in March 1915.
After a short ceremony starting at the Weighbridge at 19:15, the ‘heart’ will be carried by Jersey Field Squadron soldiers accompanied by the Band of the Island of Jersey down Mulcaster Street to the Royal Square following the footsteps of the Jersey Contingent in reverse.
Next Friday at 19:30, it will be officially unveiled in memorial casing on the Royal Court steps close to where the unit formed up before being deployed.
Pictured: St. Helier's new WWI memorial will be unveiled on 9 November.
It’s just one of many commemorations being held this fortnight to mark 100 years since the end of the Great War.
A memorial dedicated to 603 fallen St. Helier parishioners - identified after a survey of more than 1,600 potential names - will be unveiled in the parish at 13:00 tomorrow.
Designed by Siobhann Macleod, it comprises of two low monoliths – one in concrete and the other in Corten steel – which can be lit at night and include the soldiers’ names and quotes from letters written to them.
A film premiere will also be part of the celebration, with the Jersey Field Squadron showing ‘Untold Stories: the Jersey Contingent in the First World War’.
With 2018 marking the armistice centenary, the Royal British Legion wanted to highlight the role the Jersey Contingent played in the Great War by uncovering their stories. They launched a call earlier this year for surviving family members and were met with an "overwhelming response."
Legion Chairman Tim Daniels said: “It is so important for us to remember those brave souls who fought for Jersey in WW1, but through this process we’ve discovered that their stories are gradually being forgotten. Our aim is to remember them, particularly this year on the 100-year anniversary of the end of WW1.”
Pictured: The Jersey Contingent were a group of over 300 semi-professional militiamen who volunteered to fight.
The penultimate commemorative event comes in the form of the ‘Celebration of Armistice Concert’ at Fort Regent on Saturday 10 November.
It will see the Jersey Chamber Orchestra perform works by composers linked to the First World War, as well as a new composition by local musician Charles Mauleverer about two Jersey brothers who fought together.
The night will also include musical performances from the Band of the Island of Jersey, the Jersey Sings and Jersey Armistice choirs, singer Kate Royal, while Jersey Youth Theatre will do some readings.
Pictured: The Band of the Island of Jersey will take part in the Celebration of Armistice concert.
Held at the Cenotaph, the main event – the Service of Remembrance – will take place at 11:00 on 11 November.
Later that day, a biker torch ride will see 11 motorcycles of the Royal British Legion Riders travel around the island to light a candle at each Parish war memorial.
The ride will finish in St. Ouen for the Beacon of Light Ceremony, with the same torch used to light the 12 Candles igniting the beacon at 19:00 at Les Landes Racecourse.
Pictured: The key commemoration will be a service at the Cenotaph at 11:00 on 11 November.
The lighting of the seven-metre-high Jersey beacon is part of a national project to light 1,000 beacons across the British Isles to mark the end of the Centenary commemorations.
Tuesday 30 October
13:00 – Unveiling of St. Helier memorial in Parade Gardens
19:15 – Repatriation of Guillemont ‘Heart’ Stone, starting at Weighbridge
Friday 2 November
18:00 – Premiere of ‘Untold Stories: The Jersey Contingent in the First World War’ at the Jersey Field Squadron
Friday 9 November
19:30 – Unveiling of official Guillemont ‘Heart’ Stone Memorial in the Royal Square
Saturday 10 November
19:00 – Celebration of Armistice Concert at Fort Regent
Sunday 11 November
10:30 – Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the St. Helier Cenotaph
16:15 – Royal British Legion biker torch ride
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.
There are no comments for this article.