28th June 2016
Historic Bells of Derby Cathedral Rung Half-Muffled to Mark a Fallen Comrade
The ten bells of Derby Cathedral will ring half-muffled on Friday, July 1st, to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and the passing of a Derby-based bellringer who died in battle in 1916. The centenary is set to be marked with a service at 11am, during which the Last Post will be sounded and a period of silence will be kept. The Cathedral's bellringers will ring for 30 minutes before this service.
The Centenary is a particularly poignant moment for the Cathedral bellringers; in 1916, Pvt William John Davies was killed in action aged 22. Pvt Davies was based in Derby, and one of many bellringers who died in 1916. He was drafted to the 4th (Queens Own) Hussars, and his Service No. was 13284.
The Commemoration Service for the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme will be led by the Very Revd Dr John Davies, Dean of Derby, and the Bishop of Derby will preach. The Dalesmen Choir will provide music for the service, and all are welcome.
The special bellringing to mark the memory of Pvt William John Davies will take place on the same day between 7pm and 8pm. The Ringing Master, Martin Whiteley, leads the Cathedral's band of bellringers, who ring the centuries-old bells - the oldest ring of ten bells in the world - for services and special occasions. He said: "'Hundreds of men died in June 1916 during the build-up of forces and equipment ahead of the Somme battles. There was fighting around Ypres in Belgium and Lens in France, and no fewer than 18 bellringers died that month. Many, many more fell during the Somme battles that raged from July to November 1916 and we feel that it is appropriate to mark their passing by ringing the Cathedral bells half-muffled."
The Very Revd Dr John Davies, Dean of Derby, shares a name with the fallen soldier, by coincidence. He said: "It is poignant to share a name with one of those who died. Nearly 2,000 men of this county were killed, and 6,000 injured, and so this is a hugely important anniversary for Derby and Derbyshire."
Pictured: The Vormezeele Cemetery in Belgium where Pvt Davies is buried.