There is a corner of Staffordshire which is forever German. On Remembrance Sunday, members of the North Staffs Anglo-German Club joined over 100 German and English attendees for an Ecumenical Remembrance Service at the German Military Cemetery on Cannock Chase.
Established in 1964, the cemetery contains the graves of nearly 5,000 German and Austrian servicemen who died in the UK during both world wars. The cemetery is cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The bi-lingual service opened with address by Ms Tania von Uslar-Gleichen from the German Embassy, recalling the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2. Then followed a sermon by Pastor Albrecht Köstlin-Büürma from the German Lutheran Church and a reading of the beatitudes by Methodist Minister Reverend Fiona Brown from Penkridge.
The hymn singing in English and German was led by the Cannock Salvation Army Band. Wreaths were laid at the recumbent statue of an unknown solider on behalf of the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, the German Embassy, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, military associations, the Kameradschaftsverbund, the Dresden Trust, the British-German Association and many others.
NSACG member Walter Bridge from Blythe Bridge brought the photo of his German uncle, airman Heinz Hermann Rudi Klaus, born 26.1.21, missing in action in 1944/45.
The band then led attendees outside to the cemetery high cross, where they played ‘Nimrod’ from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, the European anthem and the German and British national anthems.
Anglo-German Club Chair Christine Conlin from Swynnerton found it a memorable, moving yet ultimately joyous occasion.
“It is very encouraging to see so many British people taking part and the cemetery is a thought-provoking place. With its woodland setting, it is like stepping into a little piece of Germany.”
North Staffs Anglo-German Club meets on the first Thursday of the month at Longton Rugby Club, Eastern Rise, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 8GR. For further information visit www.northstaffsanglogermanclub.com or phone 01782 796651.