Worcester Cathedral remembrance for Battle of the Somme

Centenary of conflict to be marked by service.

Two services are being held at Worcester Cathedral to commemorate the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme as part of the Worcestershire World War One Hundred programme. The services will complement vigils and services being held across the UK.

On Friday 1st July there will be a short act of remembrance at the cenotaph outside Worcester Cathedral starting just before 7.30am. The service will be attended by the Mayor and representatives from the Royal British Legion and is open to the public and attendees are invited to gather from around 7.15am.

The service will begin with blowing a whistle – the sound that led thousands of young men to their deaths on that fateful day in 1916. Later in the day, starting at 2.00pm there will be a service in the main body of the Cathedral, attended by the Lord Lieutenant and local dignitaries, and open to the public. This will be a commemoration drawing on music, drama, readings and reflection. Schoolchildren from Worcester, Bromsgrove, Malvern, Dudley and Kidderminster are taking part in what promises to be a moving and unforgettable experience. The Chief Executive of the Church Army, Canon Mark Russell, will give an address.

Dr Adrian Gregson, Worcestershire World War One Hundred Project Director said: “We hope as many people as possible can join us at these two commemorative services to remember the sacrifices made at the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago. There are a number of events and activities taking place over the coming week remembering the Battle of the Somme, these services will see the start of these events and I hope will bring a moment of reflection for us all.”

The Reverend Canon Dr Michael Brierley, precentor at the cathedral said: “The Battle of the Somme represents the mid-point of the First World War, and its first day was not only itself a terrible tragedy, but also encapsulates the tragedy that was the war as a whole. Many people had relatives who were caught up in the events that day, and these services are an opportunity to mark the past whilst at the same time committing ourselves to work for a more peaceful future.”

On 1st July 1916 there were recorded 60,000 British casualties alone. The battle lasted 141 days until Haig ended the repeated attacks on 18th November. The Allied Line had advanced roughly 7 miles and a million British, French, German and Commonwealth men were injured, captured or killed. In the 242 cemeteries in the Somme department there are 153,040 British and Commonwealth graves, a third of which are ‘Known Unto God’. A further 73,357 names are listed on the Thiepval memorial alone. Around 128,000 British soldiers died in the battles, an average of 893 per day.

The Worcestershire Regiment recorded over 4000 men killed, wounded or missing, and a further 362 Worcestershire men were killed fighting in a range of other regiments and units.

The full programme of events can be downloaded from the Worcestershire World War One Hundred website visit www.ww1worcestershire.co.uk/events/ or download the Battle of the Somme Event Guide www.ww1worcestershire.co.uk/resources/