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All-night Somme vigil for Co Down

By Emily Beament

Published 20/11/2015

First World War image shows British soldiers in trenches
First World War image shows British soldiers in trenches

An all-night vigil will be held in Co Down to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, it has been announced.

Clandeboye and Helen's Tower in north Down will host the public memorial on June 30 next year to mark the battle in which a million lost their lives or were wounded, UK Culture Secretary John Whittingdale announced.

There will also be a national vigil at Westminster Abbey, as well as services in Wales and Scotland so as many people as possible can remember those lost

Announcing the commemorations, Mr Whittingdale said: "We must never forget the scale of what happened at the Somme. More died on the first day of battle than any other day of the First World War.

"Almost every family in the country was touched by the devastating losses.

"I hope that people of all generations up and down the country will have the chance to attend an event and honour the bravery of those who sacrificed so much." In addition to the latest events, a commemorative service will be held at Manchester Cathedral on July 1 next year.

Events will also take place across the battlefields at Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries and memorials.

Beginning on July 1, 1916 and intended to achieve a decisive victory for the British and French, the battle became a bloody stalemate on battlegrounds that turned into a muddy quagmire after torrential rains in October of that year.

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