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Call to visit war graves

It’s a joint venture between the CWGC, the Government and The Royal British Legion.

The idea is that communities will come together in a meaningful place to commemorate the battle, which came to symbolise the tragic scale and futility of modern industrialised warfare.

At the time, it brought loss to almost every community in the UK so no one is very far from a place to gather to remember it.

Event suggestions include sundown vigils, lighting a candles, hearing a reading or sharing a photo of a family member who fought at the Somme.

For commemorations on 1 July, a key moment will be the four minutes leading up to 7:30am. In 1916, this began with the sound of artillery fire, a minute silence, a reading and then one long whistle blow.

Larger events planned include vigils at Westminster Abbey, the Scottish and Welsh national war memorials, and in Northern Ireland, as well as an overnight programme at the Imperial War Museum London on 30 June.

There will also be a national commemoration on 1 July in Manchester, with a military parade, a service at Manchester Cathedral and a free evening concert.

During the 141 days, daily remembrance ceremonies will take place in France at Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, which represents the 72,195 missing British and South African servicemen who fell in the battle.

There there will also other events across the battlefields at CWGC cemeteries and memorials.

To help plan an event, The Royal British Legion has launched a toolkit, available online, which includes ideas, a history of the Somme, the Act of Remembrance, a souvenir 1916 newspaper, promotional materials and a box of poppy petals.

For further information, visit:

  • Veterans affected by issues such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and substance abuse can find helpful resources here

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