Battle of the Somme 100 years Anniversary: Saffron Walden remembers those who lost their lives

Saffron Walden War Memorial. Picture: SaffronPhoto

Saffron Walden War Memorial. Picture: SaffronPhoto

SaffronPhoto 2016

July 1, 2016, commemorates 100 years since the first day of the Battle of the Somme, in which nearly 20,000 British troops were killed on the very first day of the offensive.

At the end of the fighting in northern France, which lasted 141 days, nearly half a million British soldiers had lost their lives, making it one of the bloodiest battles in history.

Four men from Saffron Walden were among the dead on the first day; Private Charles E Andrews, Private George Cornell, Private Sydney Barker and Corporal James J Halls.

A candlelit vigil will be held today (Friday) at the Saffron Walden War Memorial from 8pm to 1am the following day to pay tribute to all those who died. Reverend Michael Lovegrove will lead prayers, and letters and poems written by those serving will also be read.

Candles and jars will be on sale for £1 during the vigil, with proceeds going towards the Poppy Appeal. A wreath will also be laid at the memorial.

Meanwhile, the Imperial War Museum at Duxford is asking members of the public to discover, remember and share the lives of every man who fought in the Battle of the Somme on the permanent digital memorial - Lives of the First World War - at www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org.

The museum has created a permanent digital database to help ensure that the lives of the eight million men and women from across Britain and the Commonwealth who fought in the First World War are remembered by future generations.

The museum is not seeking original copies of letters, photographs or diaries, but asks people to upload and share their digital images on the website, which is free to use.

Do you have any stories of your ancestors in the Battle of the Somme? Contact us at editor@saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk.

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