Folkestone children took part in a poignant commemoration of the last day of the Battle of the Somme last Saturday.
To mark 100 years since the end of the British army’s bloodiest battle, families and schools from the area came together on the Leas on the morning of Saturday 19 November 2016 to plant hundreds of steel poppies around the artwork Folk Stones.
Created by artist Mark Wallinger for the 2008 Folkestone Triennial, Folk Stones features 19,240 numbered pebbles representing the British servicemen lost on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Wallinger himself attended Saturday’s event along with the Mayor and Mayoress of Folkestone, Martin and Sheila Salmon, Folkestone and Hythe MP and Step Short’s Chairman Damian Collins, and organisers Roger Joyce of Shepway HEART Forum and Ann Berry of Step Short.
The local community turned out in their hundreds, including pupils from St Martin’s, St Eanswythe’s, St Mary’s and Sandgate primary schools.
According to Centenary News, Martin Salmon said: “Today’s proceedings are a fitting way that this town can remember the sacrifices made to enable us to live in freedom and peace 100 years later.
“At their peak, the three camps in the town were seeing in excess of 10,000 men passing through every day. The rest camps were a blessing for the men, for many of whom it was their final day on English soil.”
Roger Joyce, Chairman of Shepway HEART, read a poem written by Eric Berridge, an officer from Folkestone who died during the Battle of the Somme.
Damian Collins said: “What has been wonderful throughout this series of important and poignant centenaries is that people have demonstrated their interest, and their understanding, and their desire for remembrance and commemoration of these terrible events and the sacrifices that men made.”