The Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion

Centenary of the Somme

The Royal British Legion will host a daily service at the Thiepval Memorial in France to mark the centenary of each day of the Battle of the Somme in 2016.



In addition to the national events on 1 July to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, The Royal British Legion will host a daily service at the Thiepval Memorial to mark each day of the battle .


Fighting at the Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916 and lasted four and a half months. In total, 60 nations from across the British Empire and Europe were involved in the fighting across a 25 kilometre front.

Much of the fiercest fighting was in isolated pockets focussed on key tactical ground. When the offensive finally came to a halt on 18 November 1916, the Battle of the Somme had claimed a million casualties; 430,000 from Commonwealth countries, with a third of this number killed.

An international Service of Remembrance, hosted by the French & UK Governments, will take place at the Thiepval Monument on 1 July 2016.

From 2 July 2016, The Royal British Legion in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, will host a short, daily commemorative service at the Thiepval Memorial to remember the sacrifice of individuals and communities over the subsequent 139 days of the battle.


A more formal Service of thanksgiving will mark the centenary of the final day of the battle on 18 November 2016.

Each daily service hosted by the Legion will take place at 12pm (in France) and will provide the opportunity for Regimental Associations, communities and descendants linked to County of Pals’ battalions from across the Commonwealth to participate in a short commemorative service.

The Thiepval Memorial is the largest monument built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and commemorates 72,085 Commonwealth soldiers who died on the Somme and have no known grave. Standing in grounds of 40 acres on a ridge overlooking the battlefield, beneath the dedication to the French and British Armies are inscribed the simple words: ‘The Missing of the Somme’.


The Battle of the Somme was one of the costliest battles of World War I. The original Allied estimate of casualties on the Somme, made at the Chantilly Conference on 15 November 1916, was 485,000 British and French casualties and 630,000 German. A German officer wrote,

“Somme. The whole history of the world cannot contain a more ghastly word.”

The Royal British Legion with the British Embassy in Paris and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission  commemorate the battle on 1 July each year, at the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme.

For their efforts on the first day of the battle, The 1st Newfoundland Regiment was given the name “The Royal Newfoundland Regiment” by George V on 28 November 1917.


The first day of the Battle of the Somme is commemorated in Newfoundland, remembering the “Best of the Best” at 11:00 a.m. on the Sunday nearest to 1 July.

The Somme is remembered in Northern Ireland due to the participation of the 36th Ulster Division and commemorated by veterans’ groups and by unionists & Protestant groups such as the Orange Order.

The British Legion and others commemorate the battle on 1 July.


If the children of today took time so read what really happened they would have the knowledge that so many people gave their lives so we could live today.


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