Vigil marks 100 years since first world war

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 August, 2014, 4:54am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 August, 2014, 4:54am

Some 200 people sat alongside war veterans at St John's Cathedral in Central yesterday, listening to hymns, poems and prayers as cities across the globe commemorated the beginning of the first world war in 1914.

The reminder of the war a century ago came as bloodshed continued in the Middle East, with the latest round of rockets hitting a UN school in southern Gaza yesterday, killing at least 10.

Honorary chaplain Reverend John Chynchen told those present to "voice sorrow for our own share in the world's violence", even as fighting went on in Ukraine, Israel, Iraq, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

At the vigil, dance tutor Rozana Leung Yuet-leung said: "It's very sad to see the fighting."

Since the first world war, the world has seen a gradual escalation in modern means of destruction, said Royal British Legion (Hong Kong and China branch) president Christopher Hammerbeck, a veteran commander of the first Gulf war.

"The current sets of wars increasingly have civilians gaining access to weapons of considerable destruction. I think that is a matter for reflection."

Hammerbeck's grandfather "vanished" in the Battle of Passchendaele on November 30, 1917, during the first world war.

"Like many families in the United Kingdom, we all suffered casualties in the first world war. My father fought in the second world war, so it's continuing to face up to the casualties ... And today's warfare is just an extension of that," Hammerbeck said.

Australian Sarah Gonnet said: "You can prevent history from repeating itself by always learning from its lessons."

Dignitaries at yesterday's vigil included German consul general Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff, Australian envoy Paul Tighe and Japanese consul general Hitoshi Noda. Senior diplomatic representatives from Britain and the United States also attended.