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Thatcham to remember the Battle of the Somme

Vigil and concert to be held to mark centenary

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Contact:

01635 886633

New chapter for Thatcham's Old Bluecoat School

THATCHAM will pay tribute to the men who fell at the Battle of the Somme, when it falls silent to commemorate the centenary of the battle, which began on July 1, 1916.

The attack, devised as a way to relieve pressure on French forces at Verdun, was preceded by an eight-day artillery barrage, which was intended to completely destroy German defences.

Instead, it warned the Germans that an assault was coming and failed in its aim of removing the defences. 

The battle remains the worst day in the history of the British Army when it suffered 57,470 causalities, around 20,000 of whom were killed.    

After a series of attacks and counter attacks, including the first use of tanks on September 15, poor weather stopped the Somme Offensive on November 18, 1916. The British and French had gained 12km of ground.       

Thatcham’s Royal British Legion will join Thatcham Town Council members at the town’s war memorial at 10.45am on Friday, July 1. All are welcome.

A concert will also be held in memory of Thatcham residents who died in the First World War, 100 years and two days after the start of the battle.

One hundred and five names are listed on the Thatcham War Memorial for the First World War and around 30 per cent of the men of military age in Thatcham and district gave their lives for their country.

Baritone Peter West will sing songs from the era and these will be interspersed with readings of young poets’ works, many of whom also died.

A special history of the Thatcham War Memorial has been compiled and will be included in the price of a ticket.

Organisers are expecting the Old Bluecoat School to be packed out, so residents should buy their tickets early. They are available from Newbury Building Society in High Street.

A limited number of tickets may be available on the door.

The concert begins at 4pm on Sunday, July 3. Arrive early for refreshments from 3.30pm.

Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for school aged children.

Call 07914 321 681, or email enquiries.bluecoatschool@gmail.com or visit www.oldbluecoatschool.org.uk

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