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Summary

  1. Full coverage of the commemorations marking 100 years since the Battle of the Somme
  2. The Battle of the Somme was fought between 1 July and 18 November 1916, with over a million British, French and German casualties
  3. 1 July 1916 remains the bloodiest day in British military history with 57,470 casualties, 19,240 of whom were killed
  4. The centenary was marked by a national two minutes' silence at 07:28 on 1 July, the moment soldiers went over the top
  5. Let us know about your commemorations using #Somme100

Live Reporting

By Lauren Turner, Suzanne Leigh, Ruth Levis, James Percy, Alex Kleiderman and Peter Harvey

All times stated are UK

We will remember them

Wounded British soldiers
Getty Images
Wounded British soldiers at the Battle of the Somme

That's all for our live coverage of the national remembrance of the Battle of the Somme. Thanks for following our updates and for sharing your commemorations with us online.

To find out more about the BBC's World War One coverage, go to bbc.co.uk/ww1

The battle of the Somme remembered

Pozieres Memorial
Getty
Pozieres Memorial

The battle of the Somme has defined our idea of the First World War. On the first day alone, 19,240 British soldiers lost their lives. The Somme campaign wore on for five months and, in all, more than a million soldiers from the British, German and French armies were wounded or killed. The British army advanced just seven miles. 

For future generations, the battle became a symbol of the futility of war.

How do we remember World War One?

Reading my father's WW1 diaries

James Heffer was just 16 when World War One broke out, and by June 2015 he was in the trenches as part of The Cambridgeshire Regiment.His son, the journalist Simon Heffer, explains how his father ended up fighting at such a young age. 

He also reads some extracts from James' diary, written as the Battle of the Somme commenced.  

How WW1 changed the way we bury our war dead

WW1 headstone
BBC

In 1918 Fabian Ware, the Vice Chairman of the Imperial War Graves Commission, sent out a report setting out the plans for the WW1 cemeteries and monuments. 

The blueprint for a foreign field

Vintage uniforms

Volunteers in World War One uniforms were not confined to the UK. This photograph of men paying their respects while dressed in the 1916 colours of the French Army was taken during the service at the Thiepval Memorial in the Somme.

Two men in French WW1 uniform during Somme centenary commemorations
Getty Images

Camilla visits great uncle's grave

The Duchess of Cornwall has laid a wreath at the grave of a great uncle who was killed during the Battle of the Somme while serving with the Coldstream Guards.

It was the first time Camilla, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, had visited Carnoy Military Cemetery, where Cpt Harry Cubitt is buried.

He was the eldest of three sons killed during the war and the duchess told reporters a photograph had been placed beside the grave, although she did not know who left it.

"I have never seen a photograph of him before," she said.

"It is such a long time ago and it made me suddenly realise what it must have been like for my great grandparents, to have three sons within 18 months of one another being killed."

Duchess of Cornwall and Prince of Wales at at Carnoy Military Cemetery in Carnoy
PA

Commuters moved to tears by 'ghost soldiers'

BBC Arts

The haunting image of thousands of men dressed as WW1 soldiers across the UK on Friday's centenary anniversary has produced an emotional response from those who've witnessed the commemorative journeys.

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Moving UK-wide art event honours fallen Somme soldiers

Soldiers in a station
BBC

Commuters across the UK were stopped in their tracks on Friday morning as thousands of volunteers dressed in First World War uniforms took part in a unique event to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, organised by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in collaboration with National Theatre director Rufus Norris. 

Handing out cards with the names of the fallen, the "ghost soldiers" were seen at train stations, high streets and thoroughfares, with hundreds of people uploading photos to social media along with the hashtag #wearehere. 

Find out more about the project

Where have you seen the 'World War One soldiers'?

There have been sightings of "soldiers" across the UK today.

From Blackpool...

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to Shetland...

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to Plymouth.

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Let us know where you've spotted them using #wearehere.

#WeAreHere

Did you come across a 'World War One' soldier today?

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Recollections from The Great War

Radio 4 PM programme

Radio 4's PM put together a montage of voices from the BBC series The Great War. People from both sides remember the grim realities of the conflict.

The British gain some ground

History of World War One

Map of the Somme
BBC

By the end of the day the British had gained just three square miles of territory. 

On the right wing of the Fourth Army forward trenches were captured. Across the rest of the line the battle was a disaster for the British, with the exception of the Ulster Division which was holding the Schwaben Redoubt. The French forces managed to gain land up to the German second line.

The British forces suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 fatalities.   

Why was the first day of the Somme such a disaster?

Epitaph: The First Day of the Somme

BBC Radio Scotland

Cathy Macdonald and Dr Ann Petrie recording our epitaph in Old St Pauls Episcopal Church

In the vaulted chapel of Old St Pauls Episcopal Church in Edinburgh is a war memorial from where this evening's epitaph is recorded. The church is hidden down a close, in what was once the heart of Edinburgh’s old town slums. It gave up many of its men to the local regiments – five of them died on 1 July 1916 alone. 

In the 16th Royal Scots McCrae’s battalion were: David Newton Smart, the eldest of three brothers to die in the war, Edward Anderson, the 19-year-old son of a type founder, and William Tait, a plumber’s apprentice. In the 15th Royal Scots: John Rosenbluth the son of a Russian book binder and William Arthur Hole, the son of the artist William Hole who made the frieze in the entrance hall of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. 

The clip includes an interview between Cathy MacDonald and Professor Sir Hew Strachan of St Andrews University.  

Nature, soldiers and the Somme

Frank Gardner is the BBC's security correspondent, and a keen birder. Earlier this year, he travelled to France to document the therapeutic role that nature played in the trenches.  

Frank Gardner documents the therapeutic role that nature played in the trenches.

Song for the Lapwing

And listen to Frank Gardner read a poem written by a soldier standing on guard duty in the trenches, watching the lapwings fly above him and wishing he could join them on their journey back to the green fields of Kent. British folk group The Young'uns, on location on the Somme, perform their interpretation of the piece.

The Young'uns: Song for the Lapwing

World War One at home

How did the war affect people at home? Read fascinating stories that show how World War One changed the people and places of the UK and Ireland. 

Find a story near you

WW1 at home
BBC

Timeline of World War One

WW1 soldiers
Getty Images

The First World War was the first truly global conflict – the battle raged not just in the trenches of the Western Front but in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.  

More than nine million soldiers and an unknown number of civilians lost their lives. Empires crumbled, revolution engulfed Russia and the United States rose to become a dominant world power.  

Hew Strachan describes the 20 key moments of WW1

Stories from the Scottish troops

Brian Cox narrates the final short episode telling the stories of Scottish troops on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. This piece tells the tale of a medical officer and the 17-year-old private from Clydebank who lied about his age, taken from Captain (later Major) Duncan Pailthorpe's memoirs of the day. 

(Courtesy of the Gordon Highlanders Museum.)

17:45 1st July, 1916

A masterpiece reimagined

WNO In Parenthesis. Photo credit - Bill Cooper
BBC/Bill Cooper
Welsh National Opera production of In Parenthesis. A live stream will be available from the Royal Opera House from 19:00 BST tonight

Hailed as a masterpiece of 20th Century literature by the likes of WB Yeats, David Jones' epic poem In Parenthesis recounts the horrors of the Battle of Somme from a Welsh perspective - and all mixed in with a fair dash of Celtic mythology. 

Adapted for the stage by Welsh National Opera, this new production, thanks to collaboration with The Space, will now be available for all to view online, streamed from the Royal Opera House from 19:00 BST tonight.

Find out more about the live stream

Keeping vigil throughout the night

At Westminster Abbey on Thursday evening, students and teachers from 16 schools across the country kept vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, each one held in the memory of individuals who played their part 100 years ago. 

The vigils took place throughout the night ending at 07:30 BST - the moment the soldiers went over the top on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. 

Browse photographs and listen to individual stories from WW1

The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, which is open to the public overnight for the first time in more than 50 years
BBC
The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, which was open to the public overnight for the first time in more than 50 years

The Man Who Filmed the Somme

Geoffrey Malins was a British film director whose work The Battle of the Somme contains some of the most defining images of World War One. 

It was the first time British cameramen were allowed to go to the Western Front and Robert Hall will tell Malins's story on the BBC News Channel at 20:30 BST in The Man who Filmed the Somme.

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Allied troops in the Somme in September 2016
PA

Victoria Cross recipients honoured

A total of 628 Victoria Crosses were awarded during World War One. Today, five ceremonies are taking place to remember those who received crosses for their brave actions on 1 July 1916.  Specially designed paving stones will be laid near their place of birth, as part of a four-year project to honour recipients.

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Charles's tribute to Royal Newfoundland Regiment

More now on the ceremony attended by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at the Beaumont-Hamel memorial to Canadians who fought at the Somme while serving with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment 

The Royal Canadian Artillery brass band played the Last Post during the service under the stone monument. 

Prince Charles said: "Of all the battles fought by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment during the First World War, none was as devastating or as defining as the first day of the Battle of the Somme."

Prince of Wales at Beaumont-Hamel memorial
Getty Images

Former WW1 training camp site becomes concert venue

With the service in Manchester now over, the city is looking forward to the final event of the commemorations - a concert this evening in Heaton Park for about 20,000 guests. During World War One, the park was used as a training camp for soldiers before they were sent to the trenches.

The concert features the Halle Orchestra and will end at sunset when poet Lemn Sissay reads a commissioned piece dedicated to the memories of those who lost their lives during the conflict. The Last Post will be sounded to round off the day. 

Manchester parade
BBC
The parade ahead of the service was led by a 32-piece band from the King's Regiment

Somme marked by uniformed men across UK with #wearehere

As events mark the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, Britons are capturing a commemorative project and sharing it using #wearehere.

Find out more

Soldiers
Mandy Charlton
Near the Monument in Newcastle, Mandy Charlton says "with all that is happening right now, this really puts things into perspective."

Stories from the Scottish troops

Retired Major Malcolm Ross tells of his great uncle, Captain Brian Brooke of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders, and the Gordons' capture of Mametz. Actor Brian Cox narrates.

1645 1st July, 1916

Footballers United

History of World War One

Footballers United
BBC

Hearts are on a roll, top of the league – but your country needs you

One of the many "Pals Battalions" that saw action on the first day of the Somme was a brotherhood of sportsmen formed from some of the finest footballers in Scotland. Find out how they fared in action – and what happened to the women they left behind – in the interactive documentary: Footballers United

Remembering the Somerset Light Infantry

History of World War One

On the first day of the battle, 282 men from the Somerset Light Infantry died. Here, BBC Somerset remembers them.

Canadian commemorations

The Canadian National Commemoration is a fitting final service at the Somme for TRH on #CanadaDay.🇨🇦

The Canadian National Commemoration is a fitting final service at the Somme for TRH on #CanadaDay.🇨🇦

For the Fallen

For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon is perhaps the most famous poem to have emerged from World War One. Here it is read by Brian Hewitt, a member of Stoke Gifford Royal British Legion, to remember those in the Battle of the Somme. 

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them." 

'As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, to the end, to the end, they remain.'

Regiment stories: 30th Division - Liverpool and Manchester

History of World War One

Silver cap badge, the Liverpool Pals who volunteered before the 6 October 1914 were given this silver badge as a personal gift from Lord Derby.
IWM
Silver cap badge, the Liverpool Pals who volunteered before 6 October 1914 were given this silver badge as a personal gift from Lord Derby.

The division was made up of four Pals battalions from Liverpool and four from Manchester, alongside four battalions of men from the Regular army.

The soldiers were tasked with capturing the town of Montauban and, if all went according to plan, seizing a heavily fortified German position in a ruined French brickyard 2,000 yards from the British trenches.

They went over the top at 07:30. The soldiers advanced but suffered heavy casualties from a single German machine crew firing from Railway Valley.

By 10:00 they had captured the town of Montauban and three field guns. The artillery opened a barrage on the brickworks which the 20th King’s (Liverpool) captured by 12:34.

The British assault was a success. However, there were 6,100 casualties - around 14% of the men deployed.

Pals battalions: Why did friends fight together in WW1?

Memorial to the Liverpool and Manchester Pals in Montauban.
Alamy
Memorial to the Liverpool and Manchester Pals in Montauban.

In pictures: Battle of the Somme

British troops going into battle
Getty Images

The BBC has put together a picture gallery of images from the Battle of the Somme. See the pictures here.

Stories from the Scottish troops

BBC Radio Scotland

In the seventh short episode, the BBC's Reevel Alderson tells of his grandfather John James Rough of the Tyneside Scottish. Narrated by Brian Cox.

15:45 1st July, 1916 (Reevel's grandfather is second from right in the back row.)

Regiment stories: 1st Newfoundland

Cap badge with a caribou, the emblem of the Newfoundland Regiment.
CBC
Cap badge with a caribou, the emblem of the Newfoundland Regiment.

The 1st Newfoundland was made up of around 800 volunteers from the British colony of Newfoundland, (now a part of Canada).

They were part of a series of secondary attacks which took place after the main push.

At 9.15am 752 men went over the top and were hit by relentless German machine gun fire. Most of the soldiers never made it across No Man’s Land.

Forty men, commanded by Captain G.E. Malcolm, tried to attack the German trenches, but could not get any further.

Of the regiment, 91 per cent were casualties: 26 officers and 658 men

The Caribou Memorial now stands today near Beaumont Hamel on the Somme as a monument to the Newfoundland battalion.
Getty
The Caribou Memorial now stands today near Beaumont Hamel on the Somme as a monument to the Newfoundland battalion.

Newfoundland in WW1

Letters and diaries read out

Cathedral
BBC

During the service being held at Manchester Cathedral, letters written home by soldiers preparing to fight in the Battle of the Somme are being read out, along with diaries. The Duke of York, Archbishop of York and Chancellor George Osborne are among those attending. 

Drums
BBC

Dean of Manchester speaks of 'death and suffering on unprecedented scale'

The Duke of York
BBC

A service of national commemoration is taking place at Manchester Cathedral, attended by the Duke of York. 

Dean of Manchester Rogers Govender said: 

As we gather here in this place of prayer and reconciliation, we stand together, united in our shared commemoration of all those who were caught up in the tragic events of the battle which saw death and suffering on an unprecedented scale - those who were killed in action, or by disease, those who returned and whose lives were changed for ever, the bereaved, the lost, the families of those whose fate was never known, the wounded, maimed and injured and those who held in silence unspeakable memories of warfare.

Your Somme: Sign up with this interactive guide

Discover the excitement, determination and commitment of those who signed up to the Pals batallions in World War One.

Join up with the BBC's interactive guide to the Battle of the Somme.

Lancashire servicemen
BBC

Plymouth Somme memorial 'important for children'.

BBC Spotlight

A memorial service held in Plymouth for the fallen soldiers of the Battle of the Somme was "important for children" according to a commanding officer.

Jon Cresswell
BBC

Guns were fired, standard bearers and soldiers were present, and poems were read by school children.

Lt Col Jon Cresswell, commanding officer, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, said: "For young people it was very important, it made them the centre of the celebrations. It was the children that laid the wreaths, it was the children that read the poems."