The Beer 2014 Group was formed with the aim of staging events to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. In particular, plans included an exhibition dedicated to the residents of Beer who served in the war in any capacity, plus lectures and a reconstruction of the events in the village of 3rd August 1914, when Beer men belonging to the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) marched off to war. The latter event was depicted in a set of remarkable photos which showed the men marching down to the main street of the village, led by the village band, and watched by most of the inhabitants (see 'The Day They Marched Away').
In August 2014, an exhibition was held in the Congregational Hall, Beer, with three lectures and a showing of the film 'War Horse' in the Mariners Hall. On Sunday 3rd August, exactly one hundred years on from the original event, we staged a reconstruction of the departure of the RNR members. The Ottery St. Mary Town Band led the procession, which included members of some of the original families, some wearing their ancestors' medals. A contingent of present day personnel from HMS Vivid, the shore establishment which was the parent unit of the Beer RNR men, also took part.
Since 2014 there have been further exhibitions, poetry readings at the village war memorial and another lecture, but the largest project has been the creation of the Beer Memorial Avenue of 30 small-leaved lime trees as a tribute to the residents who served in the First World War, funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund's 'First World War, Then and Now' scheme, and by local fundraising.
Beer 2014 Group Activities
- Exhibition – ‘A Village Remembers’
- Reconstruction of the departure of Beer RNR men
- Historians’ talks – ‘Life in the Trenches’, ‘The Zeebrugge Raid’ and ‘The Archaeology of the Western Front’
- Showing of the film ‘War Horse’
- ‘Lights Out’ event – readings at the war memorial to mark the centenary of the exact moment Britain declared war on Germany
- Showing in the Congregational Church of the film ‘The Battle of the Somme’, with live accompaniment by the oldest Wurlitzer organ in England
- ‘Lights Out’ event to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme
- ‘Lights Out’ event to mark the centenary of the Armistice
- Construction of the Beer Memorial Avenue begins
- Memorial Avenue completed
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