All night vigil for an­niver­sary of the Somme

Peace ser­vice at West­min­ster Abbey

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

WEST­MIN­STER Abbey will open its doors to the pub­lic on the eve of the Bat­tle of the Somme, Thurs­day June 30, for an all-night vigil around the Grave of the Un­known War­rior.

It will be the first time the Abbey has been open all night for a vigil since the peace vig­ils for the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis over fifty years ago.

The vigil will be mounted from 8.45 pm on Thurs­day June 30 to 7.30 am (last en­try to the Abbey at 7.15am) on Fri­day July 1. The Dean of West­min­ster, the Very Rev­erend Dr John Hall, said: “The Bat­tle of the Somme is re­mem­bered as one of the most dev­as­tat­ing of the First World War.

“The sac­ri­fice of many thou­sands of lives in a bat­tle which ul­ti­mately failed to achieve any se­ri­ous break­through stands as a re­minder of the suf­fer­ing and loss in­volved in the First World War.

“As we imag­ine the feel­ings of those pre­par­ing for bat­tle, the vigil will al­low us to re­flect on the cruel ef­fects of war­fare and to pray for last­ing peace and jus­tice in the world.

“All will be wel­come and en­try is free.”

The pub­lic are invited to at­tend the vigil af­ter an evening ser­vice has taken place on Thurs­day June 30 at 8pm, which will be at­tended by HM The Queen and broad­cast live on BBC Two.

Dur­ing the vigil, a 15-minute watch will be kept around the Grave of the Un­known War­rior by ser­vice per­son­nel and community groups rep­re­sent­ing those in­volved in the Somme and there will be read­ings from con­tem­po­rary ac­counts of the bat­tle.

The vigil will end at 7.30am when The King’s Troop Royal Horse Ar­tillery will fire First World War guns in Parliament Square.

A short read­ing will take place at the Grave of the Un­known War­rior, fol­lowed by a two minute si­lence, and a trench whis­tle will be blown echo­ing the com­mand to go over the top, mark­ing the ex­act mo­ment when the Bat­tle of the Somme be­gan. Tele­vi­sion cov­er­age in the morn­ing will be live on BBC One from 7am.

At 8am, the Dean of West­min­ster will pre­side at a Eucharist at the Abbey’s lantern al­tar to mark the cen­te­nary.

The Abbey vigil is part of a wider pro­gramme of events to mark the Somme cen­te­nary, which in­cludes vig­ils in Scotland, Wales and North­ern Ire­land, and at Thiep­val, North­ern France.

No tick­ets are re­quired for the vigil.

Free en­try will be at the Abbey’s Vis­i­tor En­trance at the North Door.

n RE­MEM­BER: The Grave of the Un­known War­rior in West­min­ster Abbey where an all night vigil will be held

Pho­tos by Dan Kit­wood/Getty Images

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