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A Platform of Respect

2016-07-07 15:27:05
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By Flt Lt G G Richards - 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron

A normal day at Newcastle Central was interrupted by a group of First World War soldiers arriving at the station on their way to the Front.

The actors from Reflections of Newcastle surprised travellers as they marched into the station in a scene to re-enact troops arriving in 1914. The pop-up performance seen the young soldiers waved off by a tearful sister as they departed to fight in World War One.

As the soldiers marched-off, Longbenton Air Cadets, Alex McGowan and Alex Scott, both 16, marched past them in the opposite direction. The two groups shared a moving salute, symbolising the past and the future.

Alex McGowan explained, “We wore poppies as a sign or respect and to show we will always remember them.

“In 1914, the soldiers who were off to fight did not know what the poppy meant and the RAF was not even formed then,” said Alex.

The performance was one of many events taking place to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and it was part of The Lit and Phil’s Newcastle 1914-18 project. The project explores the intellectual, cultural and social life of Newcastle during the First World War through live performances, installations and three new ibooks.

A mixture of fact and fiction, the iBooks feature three city walks and combine intimate storytelling with a rich collection of archive materials – telling stories of the city as never heard before.

Readers can choose a character to lead their tour – young munitions worker Addy Dixon, injured soldier Johnny Atkinson or siblings Harry and Emma Fisher whose father has gone to war.

Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Gary Richardson said, “Looking back over 100 years to a different meaning of ‘over the top’ is very poignant. The sacrifice that was made is something we must remember. Our young air cadets showed the respect and value held for the peace fought for and enjoyed today.”  

To see the performance visit   

The Longbenton Squadron is currently open to new members. Please visit for further information.

For more information please visit the Squadron website

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