Plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

Published Friday, 3 June 2016

Bromley Council is looking for early risers who would like to take part in what could prove to be one of the most poignant commemorations of World War One.

One hundred years ago, 1 July 1916 saw the start of the Battle of the Somme. At 7.30am whistles were blown along a 15-mile front line to mark the start of the advance by British and Commonwealth soldiers towards the German lines. Despite five days of bombardment and the explosion of mines under the German positions, their trenches were relatively unscathed. By the end of the first day British and Commonwealth troops had suffered a total of 57,470 casualties, 19,240 of whom had died. It was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. It was the start of a series of battles on the Somme which lasted for five months. 

To commemorate the men who took part in the Battle and who were killed or wounded, Bromley Council is taking part in the Whistle for the Somme organised by the Western Front Association. At a number of war memorials across the Borough on 1 July, short commemorations will take place. These will include a brief description of the battle and at 7.30am three short blasts will be blown to mark the exact time the troops went ‘over the top’. At the ceremonies organised at the major memorials in Bromley (to be attended by the Mayor), Orpington, Beckenham, West Wickham and Chislehurst short prayers will be said afterwards. It is hoped that Residents’ Associations, British Legion branches and other interested bodies will take part.

Cllr Nicholas Bennett, the Council’s Heritage Champion said: “We welcome volunteers who would be prepared to blow the whistle at other memorials in the Borough at 7.30am on the morning of 1 July.

Anybody who would like to take part should contact Cllr Bennett by email: nicholas.bennett@bromley.gov.uk or leave a message on 020 8466 1363.

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