Remember Burnley men killed in Battle of the Somme

Relatives of those who served and died in the Battle of the Somme will join ex-servicemen and others in Burnley to mark the centenary of one of the biggest battles in history.

On the morning of July 1st 1916 men and boys from Burnley were among tens of thousands of soldiers ordered to go “over the top” only to be cut down by German machine gunners.

More than 100 soldiers from the town were among the 57,000 British Army casualties suffered on the first day of the battle alone.

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One hundred years on “we will remember them” during a memorial service at the war memorial in Towneley Park. People are asked to arrive at 7-15am in time for the service to begin at 7-30am, the exact moment the whistle went and soldiers left the trenches.

The Mayor of Burnley, Coun. Jeff Sumner, said: “The boys and men from Burnley and East Lancashire who gave their lives, or who were injured and maimed, on that bloody first day of battle deserve to be remembered.

“This service gives today’s generation the opportunity to pay their respects and commemorate the sacrifice of those who travelled from the comfort of their homes to the horrors of the trenches.”

Children from Rosewood Primary School, Burnley, will lay named crosses and wreaths at the war memorial in the morning and afternoon. They will also learn more about the battle during a talk in Towneley Hall’s lecture theatre.

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Jean Smith will be attending both sessions. Her father Alfred Edwards was wounded on July. His medals and a shell splinter which was removed from his head are on display at the hall.

The battle was named after the River Somme in northern France which ran through the battlefield. Ironically, given what happened there, the name comes from the Celtic for tranquillity.

It lasted from 1st July to 18th November 1916 and saw more than one million men killed or injured, making it one of the bloodiest battles in history.