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Friday, July 1, 2016

remembering battle of Somme where UK lost thousands on day 1 : 100 years ago !

Many a civilizations prospered around river basins, sadly there have been bloody wars too on the river front ~ and today 1st July is a day, World would want to forget.‘Somme’  is a river in Picardy, northern France.  Strangely, name Somme comes from a Celtic word meaning “tranquility”.The river is 245 km (152 mi) long, from its source to the Bay of the Somme, in the English Channel. Horses carrying ammunition through knee-deep mud, PĂ©ronne in ruins, soldiers walking across the frozen Somme, Gordon Highlanders marching to the trenches – 100 years after the Battle of the Somme, people are remembering its sordid details.

Exactly,hundred years ago, the war began on 1st July 1916 and was fought along a 15-mile front near the River Somme in northern France. 19,240 British soldiers died on the first day - the bloodiest day in the history of the British army. The British captured just three square miles of territory on the first day.  It is reported that in total,  there were more than a million dead and wounded on all sides, including 420,000 British, about 200,000 from France and an estimated 465,000 from Germany.  It was a bloody battle in the history of Nations, especially for the British and French.  Now UK fell silent to mark the moment on 1 July 1916 when the battle began and the start of the bloodiest day in British military history.  BBC reports that a ceremony at the Lochnagar crater on the battlefield was held and on Thursday night the Queen attended a vigil at Westminster Abbey.

More than a million men were killed and wounded on all sides in the WW1 battle.The Battle of the Somme, one of World War One's bloodiest, was fought in northern France and lasted five months, with the British suffering almost 60,000 casualties on the first day alone.At a vigil in France, the Duke of Cambridge paid tribute to the fallen soldiers, saying "we lost the flower of a generation".The British and French armies fought the Germans in a brutal battle of attrition on a 15-mile front.

At the ceremony at the Lochnagar crater, which was created by an explosion at the start of the battle in La Boiselle, France, a rocket was fired to simulate the artillery fire.This was followed by whistles to symbolise those that were blown 100 years ago as men scrambled from the trenches.Ahead of the two-minute silence in the UK, the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired guns from Parliament Square for 100 seconds to mark the 100 years since the battle began.Across the country and at the vigil sites at Westminster Abbey, Edinburgh Castle, the Somme Heritage Centre in County Down, the Welsh National War Memorial in Cardiff, as well as in France, the silence was observed.

At the cross of remembrance, a carpet of wreaths was laid, by representatives from Britain, France and Germany, along with families and local children.In the base of the crater, beside a giant poppy, a lone bugler sounded the last post as clouds of poppies fluttered down on the breeze.  Reports state that later, there will be another ceremony at the Thiepval memorial, near the battlefield in northern France, attended by 10,000 people including the Prince of Wales and Prince Harry and hundreds of descendants of the those who fought in the battle.Leaders from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will attend a service at the Ulster Tower, a memorial to the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division in Thiepval, at 13:30 BST.At the preserved trenches at Newfoundland Park Memorial in Beaumont-Hamel, France, there will be a ceremony to mark the Canadians' part in the battle at 15:30 BST.

And the 100th anniversary will be marked by Germany in Fricourt, France, where 40,000 Germans are buried.  The Battle of the Somme was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of upper reaches of the River Somme in France. It was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front; more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

The French and British had committed themselves to an offensive on the Somme during Allied discussions at Chantilly, Oise, in December 1915. The Allies agreed upon a strategy of combined offensives against the Central Powers in 1916, by the French, Russian, British and Italian armies, with the Somme offensive as the Franco-British contribution. The first day on the Somme (1 July) saw a serious defeat for the German Second Army,  it was also the worst day in the history of the British army for its high casualties.  The battle is notable for the importance of air power and the first use of the tank. At the end of the battle, British and French forces had penetrated 6 miles (9.7 km) into German-occupied territory, taking more ground than in any of their offensives since the Battle of the Marne in 1914.

When President Hollande attends the centenary on Friday, he will be the first French head of state at a Somme commemoration in more than 80 years.President De Gaulle did not attend the 50th anniversary in 1966. Nor have his successors been at any subsequent event.1916 Battle of the Somme was not just a British battle - it was a French battle too.German attack on Verdun in February that year forced the French to divert resources to the east. In the end their share in the Somme was about one-third, to the British two-thirds.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
1st July 2016.



Bibliography : Guardian, BBC & Wikipedia

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