A ceremony to remember soldiers who died in World War I’s Battle of the Somme took place at Ayscoughfee Gardens in Spalding earlier today.
Members of both Spalding and District Royal British Legion, as well as Spalding and District Western Front Association, branches joined others to remember one of the First World War’s darkest days at 7.30am.
The act of commemoration was led by the Vicar of Spalding, the Rev John Bennett, and included prayers, The Last Post and the recital of a poem by a student from Spalding High Schoool of “The Short But Terrible Rush” written by Private William Roberts of the 18th Durham Light Infantry.
Private Roberts wrote: “The short but terrible rush through the fierce curtain fire, with men falling on all sides, I shall never forget.
“High explosive shells fell all around us, the sights I saw are too terrible to write about and men almost blown to pieces.
“I saw dead and wounded lying side by side, some were moaning and others had so far lost their reason that they were laughing and singing.”
The ceremony ended with the laying of poppy cards by Spalding High School students which formed the shape of a cross.
Similar commemorations around South Holland and the Deepings today and this weekend include those at Pinchbeck War Memorial and St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Gosberton, where the bells will ring out in memory of Private George Marshall from the village who died today, aged of 30.
Meanwhile, The Royal British Legion of Langtoft, The Deepings and District branch will hold a service to mark the centenary of both the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of the Somme at St Guthlac’s Church, Market Deeping, tomorrow at 3pm.
In total, more than 1.1 million soldiers from Britain, France and Germany died in the Battle of the Somme which lasted almost five months and claimed almost 58,000 British servicemen’s lives on the first day alone.
I saw dead and wounded lying side by side, some were moaning and others had so far lost their reason that they were laughing and singingPrivate William Roberts of the 18th Durham Light Infantry, The Short But Terrible Rush, July 1, 1916
Bells ring out to mark centenary