Royals pay tribute to Somme dead
LONDON: Soldiers, politicians, royalty and ordinary citizens stood in silence, heads bowed, in ceremonies across Britain and France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in history.
The devastating World War I clash began on July 1, 1916, along a 24 km front near the River Somme in northern France, where British and French forces hoped to win a decisive victory against Germany.
Around 20 000 British soldiers died on the first day alone to capture just a few square miles of territory. By the end of the battle in November more than one million men had perished and the allies had advanced just 11km.
At the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing in France, members of the British royal family joined Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande for a special service of remembrance.
Silent actors dressed as British World War I troops also appeared in public squares, standing expressionless and representing soldiers killed in the Battle of the Somme.
At London’s Waterloo train station, the actors handed out cards bearing the name, age, rank and military unit of the slain soldier they represented. – Reuters
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Britain’s Prince William, his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry attend a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, yesterday.