Fri, 01 Jul 2016
PEOPLE in Newbury paused to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme today (Friday).
At 7.28am on the morning of July 1, 1916 men of the British, French and Commonwealth forces were given the order to go over the top of their trenches.
They were expecting to walk unopposed across no man's land and into the German trenches; instead they were met with a hail of gunfire.
The first day of the Somme remains the bloodiest day in British Army history when it suffered 57,540 casualties, 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.
Newbury Town Council is holding a 12-hour vigil at the town's war memorial today, ending at 7pm.
In a poignant ceremony of poetry and prayers; residents, veterans and dignitaries fell silent to remember the thousands of men who fell in the battle.
For a full report, see next week's Newbury Weekly News.
Did your West Berkshire town or village mark the centenary? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org