REPRESENTATIVES from several Bromsgrove organisations gathered at the town’s war monument at 7.28am last Friday (July 1) to remember the first day of The Battle of the Somme.
The centenary of the ‘bloodiest day in British Army history’ was marked by Bromsgrove Royal British Legion (RBL) members, students from South Bromsgrove High School and representatives from Bromsgrove Library.
A representative from South Bromsgrove High School read out: “The Battle of the Somme has a unique and unenviable position in British Military history.
“It not only saw British Army’s bloodiest day, July 1 1916 but it was its most costly battle ever.”
A special service was led by Rev Ray Khan from St John’s Church. A wreath was laid by South Bromsgrove High School, a silence was held and The Last Post, Exhortation and Reveille were played by Rev Khan on the Bromsgrove RBL’s solid silver bugle which was actually played at the Somme by a town soldier who survived the conflict.
Bromsgrove RBL chairman Patrick Smith said: “The fact the bugle we have was used 100 years ago was a very poignant part of the proceedings.”
Three Bromsgrove soldiers were mentioned during the service – Pte Sidney Hatherhall, who was from Stoke Heath and served in the Somerset Light Infantry and 2nd Lt Archie Paxton, a former South Bromsgrove High School pupil who was in the 4th Battalion Middlesex Regiment – they were both aged 19 when they were killed in action on July 1, 1916.
And Pte William Keeling, from the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. He was killed in action on September 15, 1916.