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PHOTONEWS: Region remembers Somme

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
PHOTONEWS: Region remembers Somme

EARLY morning ceremonies were held across south west Scotland on Friday to mark the centenary of the bloodiest battle in World War One.

HAUNTING LAMENT . . . Dumfries and Galloway’s Armed Forces Champion, Cllr Archie Dryburgh, blows a whistle as heard by soldiers going over the top from the trenches in the Battle of the Somme exactly one hundred years earlier

 

Two minutes silence was observed at war memorials in towns and villages across the region at 7.28 am — the exact time British and Commonwealth soldiers went over the top from the trenches near the River Somme in northern France.

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Armed Forces Champion, Cllr Archie Dryburgh, took part in the commemoration at his local memorial in Annan, which was organised by the town’s Royal British Legion Scotland (RBLS) branch.

A small crowd of townspeople also gathered to pay tribute to the estimated million servicemen from all sides who lost their lives in the disastrous five-month campaign.

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PAYING TRIBUTE . . . a small crowd gathered for the early morning ceremony at Annan

Cllr Dryburgh, an ex-serviceman and local RBLS president, stated he was pleased by the good turnout despite the early hour.

A century on to the minute from the start of the battle, he blew a whistle echoing the haunting sound the soldiers heard as they were sent into combat in what for many were their final minutes.

Cllr Dryburgh added: “It is important to learn the lessons of the past and acknowledge the contribution of those who took part in the Battle of the Somme — the worst loss of life in British military history.”

Other Legion members mustered at the memorial and a floral tribute was laid beneath rows of names of those from the area who died in World War One and subsequent conflicts.

sommeThe local regiment, the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, were among the UK and Commonwealth forces who fought with French troops against Germany on the 15-mile front gaining only three square miles territory.

A bombardment by artillery and underground explosive mines failed to seriously damage the well-established German defences and when the allied troops advanced across No Man’s Land thousands were slaughtered or injured by devastating machine gun and shell fire.

More than 19,000 British troops perished on the first day alone with more 35,000 wounded.

Prime Minister David Cameron, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry were among the UK representatives in France at a special remembrance ceremony to those lost in the Somme at The Thiepval Memorial close to the battlefields.

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SOMME ceremony BA 1ANNAN CEREMONY . . . among those marking the Battle of Somme anniversary were, left to right: Lt Stuart Gray of Annan Army Cadets; David Paterson, Annan branch chairman RBLS; Fergie Bell; David Marshall; John Dewar and Archie Dryburgh, Dumfries and Galloway Armed Forces Champion

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