Northern Ireland

Battle of the Somme: Belfast marks 101st anniversary

James Brokenshire and Nuala McAllister led the remembrance ceremony in the grounds of Belfast City Hall Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption James Brokenshire and Nuala McAllister led the remembrance ceremony in the grounds of Belfast City Hall

Northern Ireland secretary of state and the lord mayor of Belfast have led commemorations on the 101st anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

James Brokenshire and Nuala McAllister both laid wreaths at Belfast City Hall.

More than 1m men were killed or wounded on both sides of World War One over the course of the 141-day offensive.

Thousands of the casualties were from the island of Ireland. Two thousand of them, from the 36th Ulster Division, died on the first day of the battle.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Mr Brokenshire took a break from the Stormont talks to take part in the commemoration

The 36th Ulster Division was one of the few British divisions to attain its objective that day, much to the surprise of the defending Germans.

The division's target was the Schwaben Redoubt - a fortified stronghold on the German line near the village of Thiepval.

Their success came with horrific losses.

By the end of the day the division had suffered more than 5,000 casualties, around 2,000 of whom lay dead.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister, Alliance Party, placed wreaths both inside the city hall and at the Cenotaph

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