On July 1 more than 200 people gathered at the Step Short Arch in Folkestone to remember the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.
The service began at 7.15am with an introduction by Councillor Jan Holben, Shepway District Council Chairman, and a talk on the bloodiest battle in British history by Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, Dennis Bradley.
A whistle was blown poignantly at 7.30am, precisely when British troops were ordered to go over the top 100 years ago. A roll call of local people who died during the battle was read by Mr Bradley. Bugler Bryan Walker then played the Last Post and Folkestone and Hythe MP, Damian Collins read a classic verse from poem For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon:
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Two minutes’ silence followed and then Mr Collins spoke again before The Reveille from the bugler. The lament Flowers of the Forest was played on the bagpipes by piper Ben Millbery. Reverend David Adlington, St Mary and St Eanswythe Church vicar, said prayers and finally, wreaths were laid and handwritten wooden crosses with the names of the fallen from the local area were planted in the memorial flower beds.
The Somme centenary was remembered in services across the country and France last Friday. In a moving arts project to mark the anniversary, First World War ‘ghost’ soldiers marched throughout towns and cities, including Folkestone. ‘we’re here because we’re here’ was a national event created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in partnership with Rufus Norris of the National Theatre, commissioned by 14-18 NOW.
On Saturday 2 July, a new war memorial was unveiled in nearby Aldington after a 60-year campaign by resident David Hughes to honour the village’s fallen from World Wars I and II.
Start to uncover the stories of the soldiers and nurses involved in the Battle of the Somme by searching the Mole Cafe visitor books now.