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Redbridge honouring the fallen of the Somme 100 years on

PUBLISHED: 16:14 30 June 2016 | UPDATED: 16:14 30 June 2016

A British Grenadier Guardsman keeping watch on No Man's Land as his comrades sleep in a captured German trench at Ovillers, near Albert, during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Picture: PA/EMPICS

A British Grenadier Guardsman keeping watch on No Man's Land as his comrades sleep in a captured German trench at Ovillers, near Albert, during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Picture: PA/EMPICS

PA/EMPICS

The First World War’s bloodiest battle is to be commemorated by communities across Redbridge tomorrow.

The sun rises over wild poppies growing on the edge of a field at Thiepval in northern France, close to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA/EMPICS The sun rises over wild poppies growing on the edge of a field at Thiepval in northern France, close to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA/EMPICS

Remembrance services and cultural events will mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916.

The opening day of the offensive was one of the darkest days in the history of the British Army, with 19,240 soldiers killed.

Redbridge’s commemorations will begin at 10.30am, with a Royal British Legion-led service at Ilford War Memorial, Eastern Avenue, Newbury Park.

Among those attending will be members of youth organisations, who will lay wreaths and plant 10,000 poppy seeds.

A scene in one of the German trenches in front of Guillemont, near Albert, during the Battle of the Somme. It shows the havoc wrought by the British bombardment, with German dead visible in the photograph. Guillemont was captured by the British in late September, 1916. Picture: PA/EMPICS A scene in one of the German trenches in front of Guillemont, near Albert, during the Battle of the Somme. It shows the havoc wrought by the British bombardment, with German dead visible in the photograph. Guillemont was captured by the British in late September, 1916. Picture: PA/EMPICS

Then, at 2pm, Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Gurdial Bhamra will rededicate the Horace Cowlin memorial shelter, close to the boating lake in Valentines Park, Emerson Road, Ilford.

Horace Cowlin was a young Ilford soldier killed on the first day of the Somme Offensive when he threw himself on a grenade to save his comrades.

His memorial shelter has been refurbished as part of Redbridge Museum’s First World War centenary project.

Tomorrow’s commemorations in Redbridge will conclude with an event at Gants Hill Library, Cranbrook Road, commencing with a screening of film The Battle of the Somme and finishing with an illustrated talk by Nick Dobson, which will bring the campaign to life through soldiers’ own words.

The event will run from 6-8pm.

Further commemorations at the weekend include a Redbridge Museum First World War pop-up library at tomorrow’s Fairlop Fair, screenings of The Battle of the Somme at Redbridge Museum, between 11am and 3pm, and a service and parade by the Royal British Legion at 10.30am on Sunday at St Peter’s Church, Oaks Lane, Aldborough Hatch.

The soldiers who fought on the Somme became embroiled in a desperate battle of attrition and the action only ended after five and a half months, on November 18.

In total, 419,654 British soldiers were either killed, wounded or went missing.

The Recorder has published a free 24-page supplement to commemorate the anniversary, featuring the tales of some of those who fought, including Horace, and details of national and London-wide events taking place. Get your copy in this week’s paper.

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