Northamptonshire prepares to mark First World War battle’s 100th anniversary

Towns and villages across Northamptonshire are preparing to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme

Towns and villages across Northamptonshire are preparing to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme

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Towns and villages across Northamptonshire are preparing to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.

The Northampton branch of the Royal British Legion has invited members of the public to join them at Abington Park, Northampton, on Thursday, June 30, to witness performances, readings and exhibitions about the battle and Northamptonshire’s involvement in the First World War.

The event starts at 7pm and booking is essential.

This will be followed by an overnight vigil at 9.20pm and a ceremony at 7am the next day (Friday, July 1).

Elsewhere, a short service will take place at the war memorial in Broughton at 7.15am on July 1, before whistles are blown at 7.30am.

The sound of whistles on the British front line saw thousands of troops drive out of their trenches as the battle began.

Broughton resident Robert Birkett said: “It’s particularly poignant as volunteers fought together and died together.

“Blowing the whistle is symbolic of the battle and people are encouraged to remember it.

“We will never do this again.”

Windmill Primary School in Raunds will be joining in with the ceremonies when pupils will also blow whistles as they remember those who fought for Britain.

The ceremony will begin at 7.15am and the whistle-blowing will follow shortly after.

The school will also take 50 pupils to stay in the Somme area of France as well as visiting the Royal British Legion commemoration service at Thiepval, where the chidren will give a reading.

Assistant principal Michelle Brett said: “Our learning theme across the school this term has been ‘Conflict’ and our pupils have all learned about conflict as seen in war.

“Marking July 1, 1916, will be important for them all.”

The Rushden branch of Tthe Royal British Legion will also be holding a whistle-blowing memorial event on Friday, July 1.

Members of the public are invited to bring whistles to the Rushden Town War Memorial at 7.10am where a ceremony and rememberance silence will be held, followed by a short service at St Mary’s Church Hall.

The service will allow members of the community to share their thoughts and feelings and view an exhibition of various projects from students at Denfield Park Primary School and Rushden Academy.

Students’ work will continue to be exhibited within the hall on Saturday, July 2, Wednesday, July 6, and Friday, July 8.

Events will also be held in Corby for members of the public to show their respect and remember those who fought in the battle.

Corby Heritage Centre is currently holding an exhibition which focuses on the Battle of the Somme and local men who fought in the battle, as well as showcasing a life-size replica trench.

Corby Council member Cllr John McGhee said: “This exhibition is just another way to get people of all ages to remember and learn about the war and Corby’s involvement.”

The exhibition will be open weekdays from 1pm to 4pm and will run throughout the summer.