Bells toll to mark outbreak of Battle of the Somme


A single bell tolled from each of the three cathedrals of Bradford, Ripon and Wakefield at the exact time one hundred years ago that the first troops went over the top at the start of the Battle of the Somme.

People across the region have been joining in churches and the cathedrals to remember that darkest day in silence and prayerson  Friday July 1.

Scores of churches across the diocese tolled their bells on Friday July 1st. Find out more here

A Service of Commemoration to mark the Somme campaign 100 years ago will be held this Saturday July 9th at Bradford Cathedral-- 3pm - Full details here 

 On that day alone the British Army suffered almost 58,000 casualties. Most of the Leeds Pals and the Bradford Pals, along with the scores of other “pals” regiments formed up and down the country, perished on the same day in the same hour on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The battle, which was to last until November 18, saw more than one million men wounded or killed.

The Dean of Wakefield, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener, said: “The loss of life on that day in our towns, cities and villages here in Yorkshire will never be forgotten.

“And we, the three Cathedrals, wanted to come together to mark this anniversary and pray together in thanks and in sorrow to all those men of Yorkshire who paid the ultimate price for our freedom today.

Wakefield Cathedral–  the tolling of the bell on July 1 was followed at 10am with a civic service with a presentation by Professor Edward Spiers, Professor of Strategic Studies at the University of Leeds.There was then a  procession to the War Memorial to observe the silence.

Bradford  lost almost 2,000 men in the Battle of the Somme and will hold its own civic commemoration in the Cathedral on Saturday July 9 at 3pm with the Lord Mayor and Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff.  Two exhibitions are taking place  – Fallen: Installation artist Martin Waters uses thousands of Royal British Legion Poppies to create a moving memento to the fallen  (see picture below): 25 June to 30 July and Bradford and the Global War is a fascinating display including historical information from articles printed in Bradford newspapers at the time of the Great War. There will be a free talk with guided tour at 1pm every Tuesday throughout July.

Resources for the Battle of the Somme. 

Premier Radio broadcast interviews from Bradford Cathedral on Friday July 1st, which you can hear here

Bradford Commemorations of Somme

The Church of England has produced Readings & Prayers to commemorate the Battle of the Somme - 1 July 2016: Download here.
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Normanton Somme CommemorationsArtwork created by the children of All Saints CE Aided School, BowlingNormanton to commemorate the 10 fallen men of Normanton.

Right - exhibition at St Stephen's West Bowling, Bradford.

At Whitechapel, local Pals were remembered as the names of the 22 local men killed on day one of the battle were read out and a small posy of poppies laid on the altar by members of the Royal British Legion to remember each of them. 

Poppies on fontSpenborough Branch Chairman of the Royal British Legion, Eddie Morton said

“This was an opportunity for the people of the valley to mark the sacrifice made by soldiers of the local regiments in this infamous battle. The battle started on the 1st of July 1916, which became known as the blackest day in British military history, on that day 22 men from the Spen Valley lost their lives”.


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