A PENARTH councillor has warned that events held to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War should not “celebrate” one of the worst conflicts in history.
Welsh Conservatives Councillor Clive Williams said he was “amazed” at the nationwide television coverage of the centenary of the start of World War One and how it had “romanticised” the conflict.
He said he would prefer to see a celebration for the end of the war, rather than glorifying a conflict where thousands died.
“What amazes me is that we are celebrating one of the worst disasters of a whole generation,” he said.
“I would love to see the celebration for the end of that war. For the TV to say this was the people’s war, with the likes of 14 lads from Cardiff going, is unbelievable.”
He added: “It’s this fraction on TV that romanticises it.”
Councillor Williams, who represents the Plymouth ward, was speaking during a Penarth Town Council leisure and amenities committee meeting on Wednesday night, September 3.
Councillors were discussing a WWI Commemorative Event that is set to be held in Penarth on October 18.
The event, to be held in the grounds of West House, has been organised to mark the town’s efforts both on the front line and the home-front during the war.
Military ancestry searches will be available with help from expert officers, memorabilia, artefacts and weapons will be displayed in the rooms of West House and the display cabinet in the hallway will house the unique history into Ivanhoe Avon’s WWI wartime personal belongings.
The front lawn will have a WWI bell tent erected for the day complete with re-enactors in 1914 uniform.
Stanwell Road Baptist Church has also offered to provide a WWI cafe within the church hall.
The event has been organised by a WWI Commemorative Group, which was set up to bring local groups together to form a plan of how to commemorate the outbreak of WWI.
Labour councillor Gwyn Roberts, who represents the St Augustine’s ward , said that the Penarth Town Council WWI Commemorative Group had been set up to “commemorate rather than celebrate” the centenary of the outbreak of the conflict.
“Right from the very start there has been no reason for celebration,” he said.
“It’s not to celebrate, it’s to commemorate. The whole approach has been very solemn and the council has been very careful from the start.”
Labour Councillor Neil Thomas, who first chaired the WWI Commemorative Group when he was town mayor, said: “The very first thing said was its a commemoration not a celebration. It’s the theme and backbone of everything we’ve discussed. People from the group reflect many aspects of interests from that time, including the Quakers.”
He added that the group were also considering something permanent on the Cliff Tops to mark the centenary of the end of the war in 2018.
Conservative Councillor Martin Turner, who now chairs the WWI Commemorative Group after being appointed town mayor, added: “The main thing is its Penarth’s commemoration and how it touches everybody.”