The 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme will be marked on 1 July 2006 with a day of commemorative events across the Somme area of France. Events will be attended by senior members of the Royal Family, Senior UK, Commonwealth and French Government Ministers, and WWI veteran Henry Allingham.
The Battle of the Somme started on July 1st 1916 and raged on until November of that year. It was planned by the allies to relieve the pressure on the western front, which had been locked in the stalemate of trench warfare for a year and a half. But the offensive was unsuccessful, with more than one million casualties on both sides and the war continued for a further two years.
The British forces suffered nearly 60,000 casualties on the first day alone, giving July 1st the unfortunate distinction of being the bloodiest day in British military history. The total amount of casualties when the battle was finally abandoned in November included 420,000 British, 200,000 French, and 500,000 Germans.
A number of events will be taking place throughout the day, at key sites of the battle, including:
- Canadian Commemoration at Beaumont Hamel
- British and Commonwealth Commemoration at Thiepval Memorial
- Irish Commemorations at Ulster Tower
- Irish Commemorations at Guillemont
- Australian Commemoration at Fromelles Memorial