‘We must never forget’: Somme centenary service to be held at Manchester Cathedral

A National Commemorative Service will take place at the Manchester Cathedral on July 1 2016 to mark the centenary of the Battle of The Somme.

The service will be followed by a people’s procession through Manchester to Heaton Park, and the event will close with live performances of music, spoken word and dance, featuring the Hallé Orchestra.

A national overnight vigil at Westminster Abbey is scheduled for 30 June 2016 and there will also be a host of other vigils across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so as many people as possible can unite and remember those lost at the Somme.

Announcing the Manchester service, Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale, said: “We must never forget the scale of what happened at The Somme.

“More died on the first day of battle than any other day of the First World War. Almost every family in the country was touched by the devastating losses.

“I hope people of all generations have a chance to attend an event and honour the bravery of those who sacrificed so much.”

The tragic Battle of the Somme lasted for 141 days and saw over one million wounded or killed on the battlefields, affecting the lives of millions at home.

The UK and French governments will also be hosting a Battle of The Somme centenary commemorative event at The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Thiepval Memorial, in France on 1 July 2016.

The ceremony is expected to be attended by 10,000 people and the memorial will be screened live ay many sites across France and England.

The service in northern France is only open to members of the public, who have won tickets in a ballot, but it will be followed by daily ceremonies being organised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and Royal British Legion until November 18 – the date the battle of the Somme ended.

The CWGC’s Director of External Relations, Mr Colin Kerr, said: “The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is delighted to be working with our partners in the UK government and the Royal British Legion to support a series of activities that will mark the entire 141 days of the Somme offensive, both in France and the UK.

“With daily events at our Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval, and by encouraging the public to visit our cemeteries throughout the Somme region, supported by rich online content and at our sites.

“We hope to deliver a fitting tribute to those who died, but also encourage ever greater numbers of the public to visit, to learn and to remember.”

National President of The Royal British Legion, Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson CB CVO, said: “As the national custodian of Remembrance, The Royal British Legion is honoured to play a key role in the events commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

“It is of huge importance that we continue to recognise the sacrifices made by the hundreds of thousands who fell during the 141 days of the Battle, and that we make our commemorations relevant and accessible to all generations.”

Other overnight vigils include The Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle, Clandeboye and Helen’s Tower, County Down, Northern Ireland and The Welsh National War Memorial, Cardiff.

An overnight programme of events will also take place at the Imperial War Museum London on 30 June 2016.

Image courtesy of Charlesdrakew, via Wikipedia, with thanks

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