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Monday, June 20, 2016

West Lancashire commemorates the Battle of the Somme

People in West Lancashire will join the rest of the country in paying tribute to those who fought in one of the major conflicts of World War One.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, which began on 1 July 1916 and involved British and French soldiers fighting German forces on the banks of the River Somme in France.

On the first day of action more than 19,000 British soldiers were killed, still the highest ever loss of life suffered by the British Army in a single day, and more than 38,000 others were injured.

By the end of the campaign, on 18 November 1916, a total of 419,654 British soldiers had been killed or injured and there were more than 1.1 million British, French and German casualties combined. The battle, which did not produce a decisive victory, has been used to define the huge loss of men that was felt by communities throughout the country.

To commemorate this important centenary in British history West Lancashire Borough Council is organising a short service of remembrance which will take place at 11am on Friday 1 July at Ormskirk War Memorial in Coronation Park. The Mayor will lay a wreath to commemorate the sacrifice made by the service men and women who lost their lives in the battle. People living and working in West Lancashire are welcome to attend.

Councillor Liz Savage, Mayor of West Lancashire, said: “The Battle of the Somme remains one of the most significant conflicts in British history and I am very proud to play a role in commemorating this important anniversary.
“The men that died were fathers, brothers and sons and many of them were volunteers who had never fought in a war before. They were mourned by their families and their communities and it is only right 100 years on that we should pay tribute to them and all of those who fought in that battle.”

As a further mark of respect the Clock Tower in Ormskirk and the Lightcube, on Exchange Island in Skelmersdale, will both be lit red by the Council between dusk until dawn from 1 July 2016 to 18 November 2016.

The Council has also secured a copy of the UNESCO listed public information film The Battle of the Somme from the Imperial War Museums. The film screening has been organised in partnership with local heritage group Ormskirk Bygone Times at 7pm on Thursday 7 July at ‘The Civic’ (formerly Ormskirk Civic Hall), Southport Road, Ormskirk and is free of charge. For more information please contact Dot Hawkes via Ormskirk Bygone Times (external link), or Ian Bond on ian.bond@westlancs.gov.uk or 01695 585167. Please be aware that the film includes graphic images of the First World War and is rated a PG.

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