Rufford's Great War Centenary Weekend

Rufford Abbey Country Park, Nottinghamshire

Sunday 28 and Sunday 29 June 2014


On Saturday 28 June and Sunday 29 June I was at Rufford Abbey Country Park in Nottinghamshire as a member of The Birmingham Pals to take part in Rufford's Great War Centenary Weekend event - a part of the "Trent to Trenches" series.

Saturday 28 June 1914 was the date when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo - this triggered a series of events leading to the start of the Great War.  The assassination happened at about 10:45 a.m.

Many other groups, as well as traders and entertainers were present at the venue.

During the two days the event was open there were many displays and exhibits.

One of the scenarios portrayed was a Zeppelin attack on Rufford, with a fire-fighting team to extinguish fires started by the bombing and casualties being treated at the first aid post..

The Bluejackets gave talks about the role of the Royal Navy in the First World War, and entertained children by teaching cutlass drill.

The official opening of the event was performed by the Chairperson of Notinghamshire County Council, Councillor Pauline Allan.

The opening ceremony took place at 11:00, approximately fifteen minutes after the shooting, one century before, of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie by Gavrilo Princip during a visit to Sarajevo.  This precipitated Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia.  This in turn led to the First World War.

On Sunday morning a church parade was held inside the Abbey.

Several re-enactment groups joined together in the arena to give displays of weapons and tactics used during the war.

Groups included The Birmingham Pals, The Bluejackets, The Gordon Highlanders, The Manchester Pals, The 16th Lancers Display Team, The Russians, The Durham Pals, The Diggers, The 1914-21 Society, Blue Max, Croix de Guerre (French military), and Guarderobe (German Maxim Gun team).

The arena display also included a demonstration of various pieces of kit used as protection during gas attacks, and how this developed during the course of the war.
Two battle scenes were re-enacted each day.