One hundred years ago, over 19,000 soldiers lost their lives in northern France. Their sacrifice was today remembered in Peterborough.
The horrors of the bloody Battle of the Somme were commemorated at the war memorial in Bridge Street from 10.30am this morning (Friday, July 1).
Prayers were read by Reverend George Rogers and the John Bailey poem ‘Taking a Stand’ was read by Gary Akhurst.
A two minute silence was held and wreaths laid out by John Porter - vice president of the Peterborough branch of the Royal British Legion - Mayor of Peterborough Councillor David Sanders, and Mike and Liz Seabourne.
Mike, who served in Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong, Berlin (then in West Germany) and the UK, is president of the Fenland and District branch of the Royal Military Police Association.
He said: “It was very emotional. I lost a great uncle in the First World War so it had particular poignancy for me.
“So many great men were killed in the First World War. It is all our duties to remember them, not just today but every day.”
Cllr Graham Casey, chairman of the Peterborough branch of the RBL, who served in the navy, said: “There were over 19,000 casualties for Commonwealth soldiers - it’s unbelievable. We just can’t comprehend it.
“It’s very important that we recognise the sacrifice and remember that it does have an impact today.”
A two minute silence was held at 7.28am, leading up to the moment, at 7:30am, when men went over the top at the Somme.
By the end of the 141 day long battle, Britain and its allies had suffered over 400,000 casualties.