Whistle for the Somme on 1 July 2016

Published Monday, 27 June 2016

A number of War Memorials around the borough will be the poignant setting for a short service around 7:15am on 1 July to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Each service will begin with an explanation of the importance of 1 July 1916, leading up to the blowing of a whistle at 7:30am followed by one minutes silence and prayers. Three short whistle blasts will be blown to commemorate the precise moment 100,000 British and Commonwealth troops went over the top as part of the big push designed to shorten 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. 

Bromley’s Mayor Cllr Ian F Payne will lead the commemoration at the Bromley War Memorial and Deputy Mayor Cllr Hannah Gray at Orpington Memorial. Bromley’s Heritage Champion Cllr Nicholas Bennett will undertake the role at West Wickham. It is hoped that members of the community will come along to one of the memorials taking part as listed below. 

Cllr Nicholas Bennett who organised the events said: “My thanks go to those who have volunteered to take part and help make these events a reality at so many of our war memorials. I do hope that members of the community will come along to support their local event.” 

War Memorials in the borough where Whistle for the Somme is due to take place at 7.15am on 1July:

  • Beckenham, junction of High Street/Croydon Road, BR3 1BN
  • Bickley St Georges, Bickley Park Road, BR1 2BE
  • Biggin Hill War Memorial, Main Road, TN16 3DY
  • Bromley War Memorial, Martins Hill, Church Road, BR2 0EG
  • Chislehurst War Memorial, Bromley Road, BR7 5PH
  • Keston War Memorial, Heathfield Road, BR2 6HU
  • Orpington War Memorial, High Street, BR6 0NQ
  • Penge War Memorial, High Street, SE20 7HB
  • St Mark’s Church, Bromley, Westmoreland Road, BR2 0TB
  • St Mary’s Church Shortlands, Kingswood Road, BR2 0HG
  • West Wickham War Memorial, Corkscrew Hill, BR4 9QT
  • St. Mary's Church, St. Mary Cray High Street, BR5 3NL


Notes to Editors

  • St Mark’s Church is also holding a service on Sunday 3 July at 6:30pm, which will be led by the Archdeacon of Bromley and Bexley, the Venerable Paul Wright, to remember the fifteen names on their WW1 Memorial Board. The service would be relevant to any who wish to remember those who fell at the Somme and all are welcome.
  • At the Chislehurst Commemoration, the whistle will be blown by Captain William Turner, Battery Captain of 265 (HC) Battery Royal Artillery. Whilst this is a ‘volunteer’ battery it plays a direct role in support of the Regular Army (12 Regiment Royal Artillery), has been involved in all recent conflicts including Afghanistan and Iraq and also played a major part in the air defence of the Olympics. 
  • War memorials in the Borough
  • The Battery can trace its lineage back to Henry VIII’s time and, importantly on this occasion, to action at The Battle of the Somme in 1916 and also the second Battle of the Somme in 1918. The Battery is based and trains at Grove Park SE12 0BH, near the station. There is a mix of opportunities for those (male or female) who would like to join the Battery; these include: missile operators, signallers, drivers. Enquiries to: 0208 860 1462.

For media enquiries, please contact Susie Clark on 020 8461 7911 or email susie.clark@bromley.gov.uk