Allies commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme in World War I
Last Friday, putting aside Brexit for the day, leaders of Great Britain (including PM Cameron, Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry) and representatives of Germany, Canada , Pakistan, and South Africa joined President Francois Holland in northern France to remember the beginning of one of the deadliest military battles in all of history, the Battle of the Somme in World War I.
On the first day approximately 120,000 men left their trenches. 60,000 British soldiers were killed or wounded on that first day. At 7:28 a.m. on July 1st all of Britain stopped for 2 minutes to commemorate the day. An all-night vigil was held at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Cathedral for the first time in 50 years.
The battle dragged on for 5 months and by its end over 1,000,000 soldiers from all sides of the War were killed or wounded. Other than the terrible cost the battle is remembered for the first use of tanks and the use of air power. At the end of the battle the Allies had gained 6 miles of German occupied territory.
For the next few months there will be additional commemorations in the Somme region to mark the contributions of other Commonwealth nations in the battle. These include July 2nd for Canada, July 10th for South Africa, July 19th and July 23rd for Australia and September 15th for New Zealand.