Battle of the Somme centenary events

Trench picBirmingham City Council supports commemorative events marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, both in Birmingham and France.

This evening (Thursday 30 June), on the eve of the anniversary, Lord Mayor Cllr Carl Rice joins guests of Albert Town Council in France in remembrance of all those who died, reaffirming a shared commitment to peace and understanding between all nations.  He will also celebrate the friendship between Birmingham and Albert following Birmingham’s adoption of Albert in 1920.

Friday 1 July will begin with a national two minute’s silence at 7.28am.  This will be led by Regimental Major Chris Moore, the Lord Mayor’s Deputy Cllr Mike Sharpe and Birmingham City Council’s Chief Executive Mark Rogers, outside the Council House in Victoria Square.  07:30hrs marks the moment that many men went over the top 100 years ago and the Union Flag in Victoria Square will fly at full mast.

Civic Service to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme 11am – 12pm, Friday 1 July, Birmingham Cathedral, Colmore Row

The Army in the West Midlands and Birmingham City Council are joining forces to hold a special service of commemoration for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme at Birmingham Cathedral, Colmore Row, in recognition of the service and sacrifice of the servicemen from Birmingham, the West Midlands and Commonwealth community who fought at the battle.

Service personnel from across the West Midlands attending the service will include senior representatives Major General Richard Stanford MBE, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Regional Command, Brigadier Robin Anderton-Brown, Commander of 11th Signal and West Midlands Brigade, and Colonel Richard Maybery, Deputy Commander of 11th Signal and West Midlands Brigade.

Six hundred invited guests from across the West Midlands will also attend the service including civic dignitaries such as the Lord Mayor’s Deputy Cllr Mike Sharpe and the Vice Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Colonel George Marsh TD, consuls, MPs, local government, employers, charities, schools and faith leaders.

Brigadier Anderton-Brown said: “The Battle of the Somme was fought at a terrible cost. The 100th anniversary provides us all with an opportunity to commemorate the sacrifice of those who lost their lives; alongside other national events, the service at Birmingham Cathedral will allow us to remember all service personnel from both the city and wider West Midlands region who fought and the losses that were suffered, both on the 1 July 1916 and throughout the five months of the Somme Offensive.  We will remember them.”

The service is by invitation only, but members of the public will be able to view the service via a big screen which will be located in the cathedral grounds as well as via the Army West Midlands Facebook page and Twitter feed @ArmyWestMids.

The poignant and diverse service will include readings from the bible as well as poetry by service personnel, school children and faith leaders, as well as musical performances by the Birmingham City Council choir (as featured on BBC2’s “The Choir”) and the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals.

More than 100 school children from four Birmingham schools, including 52 students from King Edward’s School, Edgbaston Park Road, representing 52 alumni who fell at the Somme, will also attend the service.

The Reverend David Adams will lead the service and other chaplains taking part will include Imam Ali Omar (Muslim) Mandeep Kaur (Sikh) Acharya Krishan Kant Attri (Hindu) Rabbi Reuben Livingstone (Jewish) and Sunil Kariyakarawana (Buddhist).

 

Other events -

Sunday 3 July, 11am – 12.30pm, Somme Sunday, Aston Parish Church

The Royal Warwickshire Regiment Association and Aston Parish Church will hold a service of peace and reconciliation to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.  In the first hour of the battle 870 men were killed who lived within 1 mile of Aston Parish Church.  The local volunteer Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment had 588 casualties on the first day.

There has been a Somme Sunday ceremony held at the cenotaph in the grounds of the church every year since 1921.

This year a parade from the Aston Villa car park to the church will mark the start of the service, attended by veterans of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment Association and other veterans associations.

 

Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 July, 10pm, Furious Folly, Sutton Park

Furious Folly takes place as night falls in Sutton Park, in a no-man’s land on the battle front between the two lines.  The audience are immersed in the middle of an evocative and war-torn landscape where sound, light and pyrotechnics fill the atmosphere with a powerful and poignant performance.

Drawing on the anti-war spirit of Dadaist artists of the time, the show rails against the futility and madness of The Great War, and challenges the inhumanity and senselessness of conflicts past and present. It forms part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.

This is a free event, but tickets must be booked in advance.  For more information visit birminghamhippodrome.com

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For further media information contact Press and PR Officer Debbie Harrison on 303 4476

Media wishing to attend or bid for interviews with Army personnel , which will take place outside the Cathedral at 10.15am, should contact Belinda Steel, Senior Army Press Officer on 01952 673694 or mobile 07896 941493

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