Fighting at the Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916 and lasted four and a half months. In total, 60 nations from across the British Empire and Europe were involved in the fighting across a 25 kilometre front. When the offensive finally came to a halt on 18 November 1916, the Battle of the Somme had claimed a million casualties; 430,000 from Commonwealth countries, with a third of this number killed.
An international Service of Remembrance, hosted by the French & UK Governments, took place at the Thiepval Monument on 1 July 2016.
From 2 July 2016, The Royal British Legion in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, will host a short, daily commemorative service at the Thiepval Memorial to remember the sacrifice of individuals and communities over the subsequent 139 days of the battle. A more formal Service of thanksgiving will mark the centenary of the final day of the battle on 18 November 2016.
Each daily service hosted by the Legion will take place at 11.50am (in France) and will provide the opportunity for Regimental Associations, communities and descendants linked to County or Pals' battalions from across the Commonwealth to participate in a short commemorative service.
Individual and tour operator groups visiting Thiepval are of course welcome to attend. Concurrent services are planned within the respective UK communities to allow those unable to travel to share in this very personal Act of Remembrance. UK communities will be linked to Thiepval by both representative groups and via digital streaming.
The Thiepval Memorial is the largest monument built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and commemorates 72,085 Commonwealth soldiers who died on the Somme and have no known grave. Standing in grounds of 40 acres on a ridge overlooking the battlefield, beneath the dedication to the French and British Armies are inscribed the simple words: ‘The Missing of the Somme’.
The Thiepval Memorial is located on the D73, next to the village of Thiepval, off the main Bapaume to Albert road (D929) - Google map link.
visiting the somme
Throughout the centenary of the battle, there will be a number of events taking place across the battlefields at CWGC cemeteries and memorials. If you are planning to organise an event, if you are interested in attending an event, or for more information about visiting the Somme during the 141 Days, visit the CWGC Somme page.
The Legions' travel arm Remembrance Travel is running a tour to the Somme in November and can also arrange bespoke group tours. Visit www.remembrancetravel.org.uk, call 01473 660 800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.