Moving services across Norfolk remember Battle of the Somme which took a million lives

A memorial service was held in the Tower Gardens in Kings Lynn to mark the centenary of the Battle o

A memorial service was held in the Tower Gardens in Kings Lynn to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. Photo: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Communities have come together across the region to remember those who lost their lives in one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War.

Jackie Clover, Don Edwards, Chris Bassham, Annie Bassham, Julia Line, Wendy Kenny, and Marna Clarke

Jackie Clover, Don Edwards, Chris Bassham, Annie Bassham, Julia Line, Wendy Kenny, and Marna Clarke take part in the event in Acle marking the Battle of the Somme centenary. - Credit: Archant

Services and commemorations were held yesterday to mark the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme during which more than a million men were killed and wounded on all sides.

The British suffered almost 60,000 casualties alone on the first day of the five-month battle against the Germans which was fought in northern France on a 15-mile front.

They should have had their lives stretched out in front of them, full of hope and expectation.

But instead, thousands of young men were killed as they fought in northern France in the brutal Battle of the Somme.

Remembering those who fell at the Battle of the Somme - veterans at the First World War memorial in

Remembering those who fell at the Battle of the Somme - veterans at the First World War memorial in Earlham cemetery. - Credit: Steve Adams

With more than 19,000 British lives claimed on the first day – July 1, 1916 – alone, it will forever be remembered as one of history's bloodiest conflicts.

Yesterday that brutal battle of attrition, and the sacrifices of those who took part, was remembered in moving and emotional services in this region, this country and in Europe.

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• There was a special evensong service at Norwich Cathedral at 5.30pm with a Vigil for Peace at 7pm which included appropriate readings.

Earlier in the day in Norwich there was a wreath-laying ceremony at the First World War memorial at Earlham cemetery.

• In King's Lynn, a light will shine from the Greyfriars tower for a total of 141 days to mark the duration of the Battle of the Somme.

It was placed there following an act of remembrance and a poignant service at All Saints' Church in Hillington Square where stories were shared about men from the town who lost their lives.

David Norman, chairman of the Royal British Legion's King's Lynn branch, said: 'It is essential that people remember this battle. Among those killed were several from the town.'

• With heads deeply bowed, dozens of people, aged from six to their late 80s, took it in turns to keep an 18-hour candlelit vigil around Cromer's churchyard war memorial, ending at noon yesterday.

About 300 people gathered for the service which followed, at the end of which wreaths were laid.

Organiser David Pritchard said one woman had approached him at 1am asking if she could keep watch.

'It's given everyone an opportunity to remember those wonderful men who gave their lives for us. I've been overwhelmed by people's response,' said Mr Pritchard.

Other commemorations included a whistle-blowing ceremony and short service in North Walsham churchyard, and events at Northrepps, Aylsham, Felmingham and Sheringham.

• A group of Royal British Legion members and friends gathered around Acle war memorial for a brief service to remember the battle.

Acle's Royal British Legion president Don Edwards led the service.

• The centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme was remembered at morning service in Attleborough yesterday.

The service at the war memorial in the town centre was led by Royal British Legion chairman Dave Bickel and the Rev Matthew Jackson. Three blasts on a whistle were sounded to remember the signal soldiers were given to go 'over the top'.

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