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News story: Commemoration of the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme

MoD_RSS

War Hero
Speaking at the event Ms Lucy Joyce said:

“For many, the Battle of the Somme symbolises the horrors of the First World War. On the first day alone, over 20,000 young men died. It had terrible political and social consequences in Britain, in France and in Germany. Many spoke of the “lost generation”, from our three countries, and from many others. The troops fought back and forth over the same ground for three-and-a-half grueling months, with a million casualties, before Allied High Command called off the offensive in mid-November as the autumn rains set in. “The conditions are almost unbelievable,” wrote Australian soldier Edward Lynch of his experiences. “We live in a world of Somme mud. We sleep in it, work in it, fight in it, wade in it and many of us die in it. We see it, feel it, eat it and curse it, but we can’t escape it, not even by dying.”

At the event, the documentary “Battle of the Somme” was screened.

Lucy Joyce: “The film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ was restored by the Imperial War Museum. It shows unique original footage filmed in July and August 1916 on the Western Front. For the first time, film cameras were able to give the public an inside look at life on the front line, and more than 20 million people, around half the population, flocked to cinemas to see the film when it opened in August 1916.

Through this showing of the film and through this Commemoration, we would like to pay tribute to each and every soldier who fought in the Battle of the Somme, and the First World War. They fought out of a sense of duty and patriotism, and with conviction. They suffered and they died in one of the bloodiest battles in human history. But the war eventually came to an end. The soldiers returned to their homes. Peace and reconstruction began. In the last 100 years, we have learnt and internalised that there are more things that unite us than divide us, that there are core values shared and respected by our peoples and countries, such as tolerance, human dignity, democracy and the rule of law.

Today, the UK, France and Germany are partners and allies collaborating on a wide range of areas, including foreign policy challenges, defence and police co-operation, climate change, and cooperation on science and innovation, to name just a few. We have learnt and understand the importance of reconciliation, respect, diversity, peace and friendship among peoples and nations. I would encourage all of us, including the young people of the Republic of Moldova present here this evening, to further promote these values and the things that unite us, so we can take advantage of the great opportunities for all of us to work together.”

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