05/04/2016

Call for communities to commemorate Somme Centenary

Communities across the UK are being encouraged to hold vigils to mark the centenary of World War One's Battle of the Somme.

Organise your own event
The Government and the Royal British Legion are inviting villages, towns and cities to organise their own remembrance events alongside national and international commemorations.

It is hoped evening vigils will be held on 30 June or on 1 July. There were more than 600,000 British and French casualties in the battle.
 
The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, head of remembrance at the Royal British Legion, said the Battle of the Somme had "come to symbolise the tragic scale and futility of modern industrialised warfare".
 
He said losses were felt by almost every community in the UK and Commonwealth.
"Their collective sacrifice is as relevant today as ever, but in this centenary year we pay special tribute to their service," he said.
The vigils are intended to mirror the apprehension of those in the conflict 100 years ago as they waited in the trenches for "zero hour" at 07:30 when they went "over the top".
 
The Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916 and there were more than one million casualties on both sides by the time it ended after 141 days on 18 November 1916.
Resources for vigils
The Royal British Legion has created a toolkit with ideas for organising vigils and the government has launched an online guide on remembrance events.
 
They suggest that people could gather at meaningful places or in their own homes, lighting candles, reading poems or listening to music and sharing photographs of relatives who fought in the battle.
 
The Liturgical Commission has also prepared resources for services, and are calling for churches to share their plans, especially if they involve collaboration between schools and parishes. They will be working to produce some ideas for churches and schools to come together to share their local histories, and are keen to know of examples where this is already happening.
 
To share your plans, email Anna McCrum, Senior Media Officer for the Archbishops' Council with details of your commemoration: anna.mccrum@churchofengland.org