Leicester and Leicestershire's Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme
A message from Colonel Murray Colville TD DL
Today it is hard to comprehend the scale of the casualties of the Battle of the Somme. Britain lost approximately 420,000 men, the French 200,000 and the Germans approximately 500,000. Leicestershire lost more than 2,000 service personnel. The darkest day for Leicestershire was the 14th July when 295 lives were lost in a single day.
The Battle of the Somme was fought at such terrible cost. Its first day of conflict remains the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. The centenary of the battle provides an opportunity to commemorate the service and sacrifice of those who lost their lives at the Somme, and to reflect on the human cost of war.
Soar to Somme Logo
Leicestershire’s WW1 Reference Group is planning a number of events and initiatives to mark the centenary, and invites everyone to get involved……
This is the logo being adopted for all events marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
If you are planning your own event please do download the logo here and use in your own publicity material. If you have an event then do please tell us about it.
Submit your event details
If you are planning an event or activity let us help you to spread the word by including your event in our Soar to Somme events listings ...
We will list them on this website. Please submit your event or activity details by email, stating the name of the event, information about the event, details of the venue, dates and times and any admission fees. Submit details here.
We will list them on our History Pin page. Please follow the link below. Create an account, and add your event!
Service of Commemoration
A service was held at Leicester Cathedral on Friday 1st July at 10.00 a.m. which concluded with a two-minute silent tribute and poppy drop. The service recognised contributions from across the Commonwealth and featured music, special prayers, and readings.
Two Minute Silence
A two-minute silence was observed across the city and county at 11.00 a.m. on Friday 1st July
Leicestershire County Council
Leicester City Council
Blaby District Council
Charnwood Borough Council
Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council
Market Harborough War Memorial
Melton Borough Council
Oadby & Wigston Borough Council
Springboard Centre, Hinckley
Roll of Honour – a real time memorial
More than 2,000 Leicestershire men lost their lives during the course of the Battle of the Somme.
Here, and in the Cathedral, is a Roll of Honour listing of Leicestershire men who lost their lives over the course of the battle. On the centenary of their death, their name will appear on the growing roll of honour. We will also publish details of where the men came from and where their name can be found on a memorial.
On 21st October 1916 the following Leicestershire men lost their lives:
Half Muffled Bells
The Cathedral’s bells were half-muffled on 1st July and rang following the service of commemoration.
Parish churches were invited to ring half-muffled bells on the evening of 1st July in a united display of gratitude for the sacrifice that was made.
All Saints Church, Seagrave
All Saints Church, Long Whatton
All Saints Church, Newtown Linford
Billesdon Parish Church
Croft Parish Church
St Mary’s Church, Melton Mowbray
St Leonard’s Church, Swithland
St Thomas Church, South Wigston
St Margaret’s Leicester
St Thomas Church, South Wigston
St Peter’s, Mountsorrel (ringing funeral bell)
St Philip & St James, Ratby
St Andrew’s, Aylestone
St Andrews Church, Great Easton
St Mary the Virgin, Bottesford
St Laurence Parish Church, Measham
Whitwick Parish Church
A half-muffled quarter peal comprising 1260 changes of Plain Bob, St.Simon's and St.Martin's Bob Doubles was rung on the bells of St.Andrew's Church, Great Easton, on the evening of 1st July to mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
L to R: Arthur Rees, David L C Murcott (conductor), David L Couldwell, J Alan Ellis, Steve Millington and John E Nicholls.
The bells at Whitwick Parish Church rung half muffled to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the Bttle of the Somme and in memory of the fourteen men of Whitwick who died during the 141 days of the battle.
L to R: Chris Gooch, Terry Gooch, David Waldram, Jim Lackenby, Colin Lord, Michael Davidson
At 10am there was general ringing on the bells (half muffled) for 20 minutes: Jo Green, Steph Fallows, Mary Hill, John Hill, Will Johnson, Andrew Young and at 6pm a half muffled quarter peal of 1260 changes on Grandsire Doubles, in 46 minutes: 1 – Jo Green; 2 – Paul Atkins; 3 – Diana Young; 4 – Will Johnson; 5 – Andrew Young (conductor); 6 – Ian Hearn
Grandsire Doubles was chosen as the method for this quarter peal, because it is the method rung to a peal on 7th May, 1921, immediately after the unveiling of the war memorial next to St Peter’s church
On Sunday 3rd July the bells were rung half muffled before the special service of commemoration at St Peter’s church.
The bell ringers of St Leonard's Church, Swithland, following their half-muffled ring to commemorate the Battle of the Somme.
Wear your uniform to work or school
Are you a Reservist or a Cadet?
Then ask your employer or school if you can wear your uniform to work, school or college on Friday 1st July.
Let the community see your pride in serving with HM Armed Forces on a day of incredible resonance with those who served before you.
The loss was felt across faiths and cultures
The contribution of the Commonwealth was hugely significant, but too often overlooked.
Two-minute silent tributes followed by prayers will be held at places of worship, temples, gurdwaras and mosques at 11.00 a.m. on Friday 1st July, across the city and county in a symbolic demonstration of our collective debt of gratitude which transcends faith and culture.
Leicester Council of Faiths
Anjuman e Saifee, Leicester
Turning Wheel Buddist Temple
BAPS Shree Swaminarayan Mandir
Please let us know if you are participating and we'll add your name to the above list
Special Sabha at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
A congregation of over 350 people gathered at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, 135 Gipsy Lane, Leicester on Saturday 2nd July in unity and in remembrance, to offer special prayers for those who perished 100 years ago at the Battle of the Somme.
Prayers were also offered for their families and the survivors who returned with both physical and mental scars of the battlefield, so they may find peace.
The evening concluded with a prayer for an end to wars and for harmony to prevail within and between nations.
Mandir Co-ordinator Mr. Darshan Patel said, "We urge all communities of the world to contemplate the Hindu teaching of 'Vasudeva Kutambakum - The World is one family".
Century of Stories
Leicestershire County Council’s Heritage Lottery funded Century of Stories project will be running a targeted campaign to collect new Somme related stories to coincide with this special commemoration.
If you have a Somme story you’d like help researching or would like to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The story behind the Soar to Somme logo
Pupils at Maplewell Hall School in Woodhouse Eaves help us to design this logo in partnership with the Century of Stories project.
The children from Maplewell are pictured below with their winning designs (L-R) Liam Langley, Elliot Brown, Kirsty Neville, Carly Taylor, Daisy Murray, Luke Clayton-Holland and Krish Odedra.
Maplewell’s Assistant Headteacher said “our pupils have been totally engaged with the Soar to Somme commemorations. The enthusiasm shown by all involved is a real mark of remembrance to the Battle of the Somme and we are very proud to be a part of this project.