They did not have the chance to grow old and age has not wearied them.
Their boyish faces stare out from the few faded precious photographs which remain of those young men who eagerly answered their country’s call to war.
They were never to return to the town which 100 years on honoured their memory at a simple but dignified gathering at the Newmarket memorial which stands testament to their sacrifice.
Newmarket residents, among them relatives of the fallen joined civic, church and town representatives to remember a generation lost.
They heard Newmarket Academy student Ella Clarke read the lines written by Rupert Brooke: “If I should die, think only this of me: That’s there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever England,” while Bill Sadler, chairman of the Newmarket branch of the Royal British Legion read the Exhortation and the Kohima Epitaph, “When you go home, tell them of is and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today.”
And then, in a moment of simple poignancy, just hours from the moment on a summer night a century ago that Europe’s lights went out, Ethan Minns, Theresa Tate, Pauline Wheeler, and Monte Bowers, raised their voices above the hum of the teatime traffic taking it in turns to recite the 213 names of the boys and men who didn’t come home. Everyone a mother’s son, a sweetheart, husband or father.
And in Exning over 120 people gathered to remember the 80 village men who paid the ultimate sacrifice. After a service of words and music village children Holly Thompson, April Jones and Phillipa Allison preceded by a piper playing a lament laid a wreath before lifting the Union flag on a field of remembrance with 80 crosses bearing the names of those who did not march home.