Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Centenary of Battle of the Somme marked in Scotland

Edinburgh vigil
Image caption The overnight vigil at Scotland's National War Memorial

Commemorations are being held to mark 100 years since the start of one of the bloodiest battles in history.

More than one million men were wounded or killed in the Battle of the Somme during World War One.

An overnight vigil was held at Scotland's National War Memorial in Edinburgh.

A whistle, which was sounded to lead men over the top, was blown by a Scots soldier to mark, to the minute, 100 years since the battle began.

Alan Hamilton blew a whistle used by his great uncle at 07:30 on Friday.

Service personnel and veterans groups were among those keeping a silent vigil throughout the night.

It is one of a series of similar events planned across the UK.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Barely a family in Scotland was unaffected by the carnage at the Battle of the Somme
Image copyright PA
Image caption The Thiepval Memorial in France carries the names of 72,000 men who died in the Somme and have no known grave

The Queen and Prince Philip will join the congregation at Westminster Abbey in London for an evening vigil.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will attend evening events at the Thiepval Memorial in France, where 70,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave are commemorated.

A two-minute silence was held on Friday morning.

The Somme offensive followed a week-long bombardment of enemy defences designed to allow allied troops to walk through the German lines.

The reality was very different, with 57,470 British soldiers killed or injured in the first day alone.

It lasted 141 days and hardly a family in Scotland was unaffected by the carnage.


Image copyright Getty Images

The Battle of the Somme

  • Began on 1 July 1916 and was fought along a 15-mile front near the River Somme in northern France
  • 19,240 British soldiers died on the first day - the bloodiest day in the history of the British army
  • The British captured just three square miles of territory on the first day
  • At the end of hostilities, five months later, the British had advanced just seven miles and failed to break the German defence
  • In total, there were over a million dead and wounded on all sides, including 420,000 British, about 200,000 from France and an estimated 465,000 from Germany

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