Vicar Canon Robert Bailey is holding a 36-hour vigil to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

After he has taken the 10am service on Sunday at St Mary’s Church, Bishops Cannings, Father Bailey will remain in the church in prayer until 11pm the following day, the hour that Britain declared war on Germany.

He will enter into a time of silence and meditation except for on each hour when he will read a passage from scripture and/or a poem from the celebrated war poets such as Sassoon and Owen.

During his vigil Father Bailey will ration himself with bread and water to eat and drink while a helmet used in the First World War, which he bought from an antiques shop, will form the centre piece for his meditation along with rifle shells and poppies.

Father Bailey, 65, said: “It’s a very personal thing that I wanted to do.

“World War One was supposed to be the war that ends all wars but the tragedy of it all is, it wasn’t.

“There has been one war after another. I will spend time thinking about those who have lost their lives in the past, the present and in the future.

“The First World War was an absolute waste. What was sad was the jubilation of going to war and that it would be over very quickly.”

Father Bailey, a grandfather, has military connections as he undertook pilot training with the RAF after he left school but he left to train to be a priest.

He was able to combine his love of the Church with flying as he served as a chaplain in the RAF for 24 years and his postings included The Falkland Islands in 1985, Gibraltar and Lyneham.

His late mother was a nurse in the Nursing Yeomanry serving in Britain during the Second World War while his uncle, an RAF pilot, was shot down and killed over the North Sea during the Second World War.

Father Bailey has been the team vicar for Bishops Cannings, All Cannings and Etchilhampton for a year.