Global lead­ers put hos­til­i­ties on hold

Sunday Star-Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Bri­tish and French sol­diers stood shoul­der to shoul­der as their lead­ers united yes­ter­day to re­flect on the car­nage and de­struc­tion of the Bat­tle of the Somme.

Theresa May and Em­manuel Macron climbed the hill that had been at the cen­tre of the fight­ing to look out on a scene of ru­ral French tran­quil­lity.

At the Thiep­val Me­mo­rial, built in 1932 in ho­mage to the 73,357 Bri­tish sol­diers who had no known grave af­ter the bat­tle, May and Macron laid a wreath made half of pop­pies and half of bleuets, the flower used by the French to com­mem­o­rate their war dead.

The lead­ers were then led to the small, neatly kept ceme­ter­ies be­hind the mon­u­ment.

They stopped in front of the grave of Ri­fle­man Philip Ernest Stubbs, from Northamp­ton­shire, who died on November 3, 1916, weeks be­fore the end of the bat­tle, at age 17. He was a mem­ber of the King’s Royal Ri­fle Corps, the Bri­tish reg­i­ment in which May’s pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther, Thomas Brasier, also served.

Macron’s mind may also have turned to his great-grand­fa­ther, Ge­orge Wil­liam Robert­son, who was Bri­tish. He came to fight on the Somme and stayed on to marry a French woman with whom he had three chil­dren, be­fore di­vorc­ing and re­turn­ing to the UK.

May had ear­lier laid wreaths near Mons, Bel­gium, at the graves of the first and last Bri­tish sol­diers killed on the Western Front in the war.

AP

Em­manuel Macron and Theresa May lay a wreath at the Thiep­val Me­mo­rial in France.

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