On Sunday August 3rd a special service to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War was held at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral.
The service was supported by the British High Commission and attended by representatives of veterans organisations, members of the diplomatic corps and government ministers, who joined in remembering the sacrifices made by the people of Seychelles and the Commonwealth during the First World War.
Speaking during the service, British High Commissioner Lindsay Skoll said:
“From London, from what was the centre of the British Empire, many of the colonies appeared exotic and distant lands. Here in Seychelles, the smog, the cold and the clamour of London – let alone battlefields of WW1 - would have been almost impossible to imagine. At a time before air travel, before television and modern communications, islands such as these may indeed have been remote. But the links between them and the heart of empire were solid and rooted in common values. So when the call came it was countries such as Seychelles, which answered with the most humbling and steadfast commitment.”
“The losses endured by Seychelles during the First World War were staggering. The census of 1911 recorded a national population of just 22,600. Of this tiny community – less than a quarter of the current population of Seychelles – the lives of 347 young men were taken by the conflict. The impact of such a staggering level of loss in such a small community is impossible to imagine. But there is perhaps no greater testimony to the spirit and character of the people of Seychelles than the fact that, a little over twenty years after suffering this terrible trauma, they did not hesitate to take up arms again in defence of the Commonwealth at the outbreak of the Second World War.”
“100 years after the start of the First World War we live in a very different time. But while our lives today would be almost unrecognisable to the generation of young men whose sacrifice we remember, the values that they taught us endure.”
“Courage, commitment, sacrifice and camaraderie inspired them to take up arms. Let these same values guide us today.”