Plymouth to commemorate Battle of the Somme centenary

Civic and military dignitaries, service personnel, veterans, school pupils and members of the public will gather on Plymouth Hoe early on Friday 1 July to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

A two-minute silence will take place at 7.30am – the time when, 100 years ago, 22 divisions of the British Army on the Western Front assaulted across a 20-mile front of the German defensive line in Picardy on the Western Front.

It was the first in a series of offensives that finally finished on 18 November, claiming the lives of 420,000 British soldiers. That first day saw almost 20,000 men fall, out of a total of 57,000 casualties.

The battle touched every town, village and family and today the name of the Somme resonates through our nation’s history as the ultimate in military disaster and human tragedy.

On Friday morning, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery (itself brought together on the Somme as part of the 7th Division) will lead Plymouth in commemorating the loss of the flower of a generation.

Pupils from local schools will lay flowers and read poems reflecting Britain’s experience of the First World War. The City of Plymouth Pipe Band will also play at the service.