Somme 100 marked

July 2, 2016

Thanks to Colin for this updated report …
Somme Comments
On Friday, 01 July at 0700, the Mayor of Abingdon, Councillor Alice Badcock, led a small gathering of about fifteen souls, who met at the War Memorial on The Square, for a short act of remembrance in honour of those who fell at the battle of the Somme, which had begun one hundred years earlier, in 1916.

Almost two years after the start of the First World War, among the British infantry regiments fighting at the Somme was the local Royal Berkshire Regiment, in which a large number of men from Abingdon had enlisted. Some of those who fell at the Somme are remembered on the War Memorial including one Ock Street resident, who lost his life aged 22 on the first day of fighting.

Lined up on the west side of the memorial was a British Army Padre and five sergeant-majors from 3 Logistic Support Regiment, based at Dalton Barracks, near Abingdon. On the south side was the civic party comprising the Mayor, the chairman of Vale of White Horse District Council and a few other civic leaders. On the east side, stood two buglers from The Rifles and a few members of the public.

Shortly before 7am there was an Exhortation:
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Then followed The Last Post on the bugle, a two minutes silence, and a Reveille.

You can hear an audio recording on The Abingdon Taxi Sound Cloud.

The Mayor laid a wreath in the town colours of yellow and green, and the Padre followed on behalf of the Logistics 3rd Regiment, saluting towards the War Memorial as he stepped back.

The Mayor read the Kohima Epitaph:
‘When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.’

The short ceremony was concluded with a blessing from the Padre –
“God grant to the living, grace; to the departed, rest
to the Church, the Queen, the Commonwealth, and all people, peace and concord…”

By five minutes past seven, Abingdon once more went about its daily business.

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10 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Captainkaos2  |  July 1, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Spare a thought for what happened 100 years ago today ? At 7.30 am the battle of the Somme began, by nightfall 40,000 men had fallen ( more than the population of Abingdon) two years ago I spent 10 days visiting WW1 battle fields, from Ypres, Paschendale in Belgium to Albert in the Somme, in my quest for information on my family history I found the graves of two of my great uncles and visited the memorials of two more, I laid a wreath on the Royal Berkshire regiment on behalf of Angela Lawrence, the then mayor.
    It was the most memorisable journey I have ever done and would urge anyone who hasn’t been there to put it on your next to do list?
    We shall remember them !

  • 2. Anne  |  July 1, 2016 at 9:01 am

    perhaps the best way we can remember them – and the thousands of young men who were killed on both sides in 1WW – is to find better ways of resolving international differences . . .

  • 3. Janet  |  July 1, 2016 at 9:53 am

    I hope our intelligence is better now. Apparently the Germans had dug tunnels under our troops and accessed the line communication system and knew exactly when our troops were going to attack. Lambs to the slaughter. There will always be countries who have expansionist ambitions. China is stealthily claiming the South China sea and Iran and North Korea are developing nuclear weapons. Our national trait of denial and appeasement does not help. We have only to think of Nevil Chamberlain and ‘nice Mr Hitler said that we would have peace in our time’ Less than a year after that Germany invaded Poland.

  • 4. Reductio ad absurdum  |  July 1, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    A thought provoking and personally moving post Captain, thankyou. Sadly the terrible impact of that day is worse than you suggest. In all there are recorded as being 57,470 casualties from the UK ranks ( I believe this includes those from the British Empire but not the French) of which 19,240 died. The French and Germans did not record casualties on a daily basis and neither were civilian casualties counted but suffice to say it was a terrible and bloody time for all concerned and one we must all work together to prevent ever happening again.

  • 5. Captainkaos2  |  July 1, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    We visited the Newfoundland memorial, their story went something like this, at 8 am a whistle blew and all 650 Newfoundlers went ” over the top” and charged the German front line some 500 yards away, at 09.10am, just one hour ten minutes later just 70 of them managed to crawl back, it was carnage on an industrial scale !

  • 6. Captainkaos2  |  July 1, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    By tea time the Franco – British front line extended to 25 miles north and south of the Somme. the British had captured Montauban & Mametz, the French were attacking Peronne and had reached the outskirts of Hardecourt & Curlu. To the north of Albert the British had made little progress administration the well dug in Germans, They ( the British) had failed to take their objectives of Gommecourt, Beaumont Hamel, Thiepval and la Boisselle, casualties had reached 57,000, the highest casualty figures ever recorded in the British army, there were 9 Victoria Crosses awarded that day !

  • 7. Iain  |  July 1, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Truly horrific – and agree with all above we need to work hard to make sure this sort of thing is never repeated.

    Like Steve (CK), I found out more than I really wanted to know about WW1 when researching my family history. I knew my Grandad (technically my Great Grandad but we just called him Grandad as kids) had fought in WW1 together with his 4 brothers and lost a leg. When researching this I discovered an interview he (and other veterans) did with a Canadian historian about his experience. It was a big surprise to our family, as he, like many of his generation, never really spoke about what he had been through.

    He was a normal, kind and gentle grandfather and reading of what he and his generation went through and had to do really brings home how fortunate we are to live in these relatively peaceful times.

    Interview below if anyone interested

  • 8. Captainkaos2  |  July 1, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Ian, from memory I think there were 9 “kings” in Abingdon who’paid the ultimate price including Percival Aurthur King a private in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, who according to records was Abindons first fatality of WW 1
    The Royal Berkshire Regiment was our regiment and the majority of abingdon men fought in that regiment, I’ve done quite a bit of research on them and came across an account of practise trenches being created somewhere near the river here? I spent hours trawling Google Earth looking for evidence of such and found what looked them at Rye Farm? I made a couple of site visits to the area and spoke with the elderly owners of the farm house there who agreed with me the position, if you go along the lane toward king fisher barns you find the track to the lock on your left? The parcel of land between the track to the lock and the barns is where I’m positive the trenches were/are ?
    All be it very overgrown with bramble etc there are several deliberately excavated workings and one large man made crater too, I’ve often thought it might be good to carry out some reinstatement/restoration work there and include them in the Heritage week?

  • 9. ppjs  |  July 1, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    I remember standing in North Yorkshire in a village of a dozen houses. On the war memorial were five different surnames – 14 dead.

    Jaw-Jaw is better than war-war (Winston Churchill, I think).

  • 10. Captainkaos2  |  July 1, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Well said PPJS, well said, meanwhile as dusk set over the Somme an Indian Calvery regiment was readying itself for a charge on enemy lines at first light, most, including their horses were cut to ribbons!
    Apart from drawing on men from the commonwealth to fight alongside the Royal Berkshires and the Acrington pals etc over 100,000 Chinese volunteered to enlist and although they didn’t actually fight, they dug trenches, carried munitions and generally provided labour at the front.
    In 1917 a flu pandemic began in the Far East, it started to spread eastward and naturally inflicted the German forces before the Franco-British lines, just prior to the ceasefire it is estimated that over 60% of German forces had succumbed to the virus, a statistic that directly affected the outcome of the war!
    By 1922 the pandemic had reached Americs and over 22 million people had died of it.
    Meanwhile back in Abingdon the Chinese community ( many of who had arrived as a result of the boxer rebellion and we’re living at Milton camp, now Milton Park) had also succumbed to the flu !
    It’s a well known fact among old Abingdonians that these unfortunate Chinese souls were buried in a mass grave in Abingdon cemetery (Spring rd ) even though cemetery plot records do not support that ( I’ve inspected the burial register) so many people I know are insistent this mass grave exists? Apparently there waceven a plaque on the stone wall around the grounds !
    Any thoughts on that one?

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