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Member Cities' Activities
Events held in Manchester and other cities around the UK and France for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme
Manchester and other cities,on July 1st, 2016
Report provided by Sean Morris, UK & Ireland Mayors for Peace Chapter Secretary
Memorial events were held across the UK and in France to commemorate the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, one of the most destructive battles of the Frist World War. On the 1st July 1916, a large offensive began in northern France between British and French armies and German forces to break the stalemate of trench warfare. The 1st July was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army with over 57,470 casualties and 19,240 deaths alone. After 141 days of the battle, over a million people had died or were seriously injured.
The official events to commemorate the centenary of this event began with a special service in Westminster Abbey led by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh by the tomb of the unknown soldier. This memorial remembers the many soldiers who were killed in the conflict and whose body was never identified.
A national event at the site of the battle, at Thiepval cemetery in France, heard moving speeches, music and formal recognition of remembrance. Amongt those who were present were French President Hollande, Prince Charles, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Irish President Michael D Higgins.
Local memorial services were held across the UK and in Northern France and culminated in Manchester with an official commemoration service in Manchester Cathedral, attended by Prince Andrew, the Lord Mayor of Manchester and multi-faith leaders. An evening concert was held in Manchester's Heaton Park, which included music from the Halle Orchestra, a 300 strong children's choir, a poetry tribute from Manchester poet Lemn Sissay and a tiled path of remembrance where members of the public had laid individual tiles remembering those who had died and calling for peace. Manchester was chosen for the final event as many of the first soldiers to go over the barricades came from the Greater Manchester area in 'Pals' regiments of local volunteers.